Zamboanga City’s theme logo for the 2006 Zamboanga Hermosa Festival. (Benjie Barredo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY ((Uly Israel) / 30 Sept) – Here comes the most touted, considered as the grandest festivity staged every year in Zamboanga City – the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival!
Starting September 30 until the end of month of October, a series of activities have been prepared by the city government and the private sector, an ambitious project designed to draw local as well as foreign tourists to the city.
The organizers have adopted the theme: “Alegria, Alegria, Adelante Zamboanga” (Merry, Merry, Forward Zamboanga!) to highlight what awaits those who would join the revelry.
Expected to draw visitors to the city are scheduled concert of Sharon Cuneta on the 7th of October, the unique presentation of “Wow Zamboanga!”, the Band and Dance competitions, the Regatta de Zamboanga, the religious activities on October 12, the free concert of Rey Valera, the trade fair and many more.
It officially reeled off September 30 with the opening of the 14th Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship (regional leg tournament) at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University gymnasium.
The month-long celebration consists of over 40 activities which will last until the end of October. The annual revelry is being held in honor of the feast day of the Nuestra Senora de la Virgen del Pilar, the city’s patron saint, on October 12.
Senate President Manuel Villar will be the city’s guest of honor and speaker during the commemorative program on October 11 at the open stage fronting City Hall. The program will be preceded by a street dance where elementary and high school students will parade the streets with their different costumes and dances at 9 a.m.
At 1 p.m. the same day, a floral float competition and street dance showdown would be held fronting the open stage.
This year’s festival will be highlighted by the unique presentation of Wow Zamboanga!, wherein some of the city’s 98 villages will present nightly cultural shows at the National Museum Courtyard from October 3-10, spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT-Zamboanga City).
On October 1st, traveling merchants will open their stalls for the public at the CDCP complex, which has been converted into an open bazaar complex. Some 200 merchants from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will participate in the festivities.
Micaela Marquez, a Zamboanguena, will feature her art works in an art exhibit dubbed as “Las Mujeres de Zamboanga” at the lobby of the Lantaka Hotel.
The “Cosechas de Zamboanga”, a trade fair exhibit will also run from Oct. 3-15 at the Plaza Pershing.
The 2006 Dance Sport competition will be held on October 4 at the City Coliseum while a motorcade for Sharon Cuneta will be held on October 5 from the Zamboanga International Airport to the Palmeras Restaurant in Sta. Maria where she is to hold a press conference.
On October 6, the activity will include the 26th Chavacano Song Festival at the Garden Orchid Hotel roof deck (6 p.m.); a torch parade sponsored by the Universidad de Zamboanga, which will also be celebrating its Foundation Day; the Search for Mannequin of the Year, 7 p.m. at the Astoria Regency; and the free concert featuring Rey Valera, Saling Ket and Yra Johnson dubbed as “Ayer, Ahora y Manana Tuloy ang Love Songs, at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum in Tetuan village.
The public will have the chance to see the “Carrera de Zamboanga” from the Sta. Cruz Island to R.T. Lim Boulevard, Luyahan-Pasonanca-Muruk and then to City Hall on October 7.
The same day will also be the start of the two-day 1st Zamboanga Hermosa Mindanao Age Group Swimming Competition at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex; the start of the two-day (Oct. 7-8) golf tournament dubbed as Mayor Celso Lobregat Cup Golf Tournament at the Golf and Country Club and the start of the BC Cup 2006, an inter-government badminton tournament sponsored by Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco at the LB Badminton Center (Oct. 7-8) and Sharon Cuneta’s Mega Concert (Oct. 7) at the Summit Center in Tetuan.
October 8 will be the Regatta de Zamboanga, the sail boat race at the R.T. Lim Boulevard at 7 a.m.; the Milo Marathon at the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex; 37th Celebrating Dance, a dance competition at the WMSU gym and the Balikbayan Night, a dinner program for the Vamos A Zamboanga participants sponsored by the Department of Tourism at the Hacienda de Palmeras, 6 p.m.
October 9 activities will include the band competition at the Southern City Colleges and the Modern Dance Competition dubbed as “You Got Serve” at the Ground Zero disco.
The 3rd quarter regional scout committee meeting will reel off on October 10 at the Astoria Regency in the day time and at 7 p.m. simultaneously will be the Miss Zamboanga Beauty Pageant at the Astoria Regency and the ABS-CBN Mighty King of the Road Amateur Singing Competition at the City Hall Open stage
On the eve of the Fiesta Pilar – Oct. 11 – will be the street dance at 9 a.m. and the street dance showdown and floral float at 1 p.m. and culminated by program with Sen. Villar as guest.
October 12, the Feast Day of the Nuestra Senora, declared a non-working holiday in Zamboanga, will be devoted to religious activities. At 5 a.m. will be Diana (street brass band play) and the saying of the Holy Rosary and the grand procession in the afternoon from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Fort Pilar shrine where the mass will be held.
The post fiesta activities include the October Fest at the Park 88 diner (Oct. 12-14); Oct 14 – Six Cycle Mind’s concert at the city coliseum and the Concert at the Open Stage City Hall featuring the Viva Hot Babes; October 14-15-culmination of the BC Badminton Cup; October 20-21-Clean Green Coco Zamboanga at the Yubengco Star Mall in Putik village.
Mayor Celso Lobregat has given a directive to police and military authorities to draw up the security plans for the month-long celebration of Fiesta Pilar. (Mindanao Examiner)
Filipino soldiers patrol a hinterland village in Jolo island, where military forces are hunting down members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Darwin Wee / 30 Sept) – The Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) in Western Mindanao has expressed optimism that it would exceed the 8,000 hectares targeted for abaca plantation in the region in three years time.
FIDA regional director Eduardo B. Holoyohoy said the government is targeting to expand the abaca plantation to at least 50,000 hectares in different abaca production areas in the country under the National Abaca Development Program.
“Although our initial target is 8,000 hectares, we are confident to go beyond our target abaca plantation areas to more than 10,000 hectares,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Mr. Holoyohoy attributed the upbeat projection after several local investors signified their interest to develop and transform idle agricultural land to abaca plantation in the region.
He said the bulk of the expansion projects are in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
In Zamboanga del Norte alone, at least 7,000 hectares are expected to be fully planted with abaca within this year, he said.
“Currently, we have 2,000 hectares in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte which is being funded by the Canadian mining firm TVI Resource Development Phils., Inc., under its so-called corporate social responsibility program.”
“Another private firm has pledged to develop 5,000 hectares in Sibuco town also in Zamboanga del Norte. The proposal is yet to be presented to Agricultural Commodity Enhancement Fund,” he said.
In addition, Mr. Holoyohoy said that there are also two private investors from Manila and Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao which are also eyeing to plant 5,000 hectares in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province and 2,000 hectares more in Zamboanga Sibugay.
To maintain the abaca seedlings distribution in the region, FIDA is establishing at least two new seed banks and nurseries.
“This is to augment the current seed stocks in Kalawit and Muntiya towns in Zamboanga del Norte. Seed banks and nurseries are very important for us to be able to realize the project. This will be the source of all the planting materials,” he said.
He said another investor in Zamboanga Sibugay has already established a five-hectare nursery to supply the needs of its 300 hectares abaca plantations.
Currently, Western Mindanao has about 10,000 hectares planted to abaca. In 2005, the abaca production in this region reached more than 106 tons, a 50% increase compared from the previous year.
Mr. Holoyohoy said at least 95% of the total production of abaca in Western Mindanao comes from Sulu Archipelago. Last year, Sulu produced more than 2,500 tons of raw abaca fiber.
Being the major abaca producing province, Sulu also has the biggest plantation of abaca in the region with a little over 5,000 hectares.
FIDA’s planning officer Concepcion A. de Barras, said the Zamboanga Peninsula, which comprises Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte, do not have any abaca processing plant.
She said the at least 80% of raw abaca fiber is delivered to Lanao del Norte province and the rest are being delivered to Leyte and in Cebu in the Central Philippines.
The region has at least 45 buying stations of abaca and majority of it falls in the classification of Class C and Class D traders which could only supply some 25,000 kilos of abaca per year.
She said the current buying prices of abaca in the region ranges from P33 to as high as P43 per kilo depending on the location of the farmers and where the accumulation of the fiber is done.
There are more than 3,000 abaca farmers. She said to encourage more farmers to plant abaca; FIDA is stepping up its training program for farmers to boost abaca production in the region.
“We are conducting an average of 20 trainings per year on basic abaca planting and techniques on fiber craft manufacturing,” she said.
Ms. de Barras noted that the abaca industry in this region still faces the “perennial” problem such as lack of post-harvest facilities, processing, and marketing.
“In terms of technology, the Western Mindanao region is still lagging from new machines particularly in stripping, which majority of the farmers strips the abaca manually,” she said.
Abaca is obtained from a banana-like plant, which is known scientifically as “Musa textiles.” It is indigenous to the Philippines but is also found in Borneo, and Indonesia.
It is also considered the strongest of natural fibers being three times stronger than cotton and two times stronger than sisal fiber. Aside from rope, abaca fibers are also being used as a major component for food packaging as in tea bags and meat casings, filter papers and cigarettes papers.
It is also being use in tarpaulin, such as billboards, photo frames, albums, stationery, flowers, all purpose cards and decorations, among others. Abaca pulp is also use as a component in producing currency notes in some countries.
With the new technology, abaca seeds are also being used in shampoo making and pastries, according to Ms. de Barras.
Based on the 2006 Philippine Abaca Industry Report, the demand of abaca raw materials, which include its fibers, pulps and seeds are increasing with an average of 3% annually both local and exports consumption.
Abaca remains as a major dollar earner, with the Philippines accounting for 85% of the world supply. Exports of raw abaca fibers and processed abaca fibers generate average annual earnings of $76 million with an estimated 1.5 million Filipinos dependent on abaca for their livelihood, the report said.
The United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, and South Korea are among the major markets for abaca fiber.
Mr. Holoyohoy said local farmers should look at the great potential of planting abaca. “Abaca is a cash crop for local farmers and planting abaca will greatly help them to augment their income. We are now on the massive campaign in encouraging our farmers to help us improve production and meet the demand for both the local and the international markets,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)
MAGUINDANAO (Juan Magtanggol / 30 Sept) – Suspected communist insurgents torched a provincial bus after divesting its passengers of valuables in the southern Philippines, military authorities said Saturday.
It said the attack occurred late Friday on a remote village in Makilala town in North Cotabato province. Three gunmen, who posed as passengers, announced they were members of the New People’s Army and were taking over the bus.
The men ordered around 40 passengers to disembark from the bus, took their money and valuables and then poured gas and torched the vehicle before fleeing. No one was hurt from the incident, the military said.
It said a group of armed men, believed to be rebels, joined the trio in their escape.
The motive of the attack was unknown, but the military suspects it was connected to an extortion attempt on the bus firm. The NPA had previously torched other passenger buses in the province after their operators failed to pay illegal taxes to the rebel group.
The NPA is fighting the government the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.
DIPOLOG CITY (Darwin Wee / 29 Sept) – The historic city of Dipolog in Zamboanga del Norte province is to host the two-day 1st Mindanao Trade, Investments and Tourism Congress next week.
Some 100 delegates from different business groups are expected to attend the congress which will begin October 5.
The congress is being spearheaded by the Federation of Business Chambers of Mindanao Foundation which is composed of 15 business chambers from the cities of Dipolog, Ozamis, Iligan, Marawi, Cotabato, Kidapawan and from the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lugait, Tandag, Cantilan, Basilan, Sultan Kudarat, Isulan, South Cotabato and Midsayap.
The two-day congress will discuss the potentials, opportunities, challenges and issues related to trade and investments in Mindanao, according to the Philippine Information Agency.
It also quoted Edwin Capili, chairman of the Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), that dignitaries from Manila and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, together with Miguel Varela, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are expected to attend the congress.
“This is an opportunity for us to show to our guests the trade and investment potentials of the (Zamboanga del Norte) province,” Capili said. (With reports from the Philippine Information Agency/Mindanao Examiner)
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ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Sept) – Government soldiers clashed with members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, a regional army spokesman said Saturday.
The fighting broke out Friday in the hinterlands of Patikul town, scene of previous clashes between security and Abu Sayyaf forces, said Major Eugenio Batara. “There was fighting alright in Patikul, but we still don’t know if there are any Abu Sayyaf casualties. The terrorists had fled the fighting and troops are pursuing them,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Batara said there were no military casualties. It was the second fighting to break out in Jolo island since the Muslims began their month-long Ramadan fasting.
Jolo is a predominantly Muslim province, about 950 km south of Manila, where troops were tracking down Abu Sayyaf leaders, including their chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani; and two Jemaah Islamiya militants, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both wanted by Jakarta and Canberra for the deadly Bali bombings in 2002 that left more than 200 mostly Australian holiday-makers dead.
Australia is to begin a joint anti-terror warfare training with the Philippine military in the restive southern region this year, according to Batara.
COTABATO CITY (Juan Magtanggol / 29 Sept) — At least 6 people were injured when a grenade exploded near a huge crowd watching a rock concert in the southern
Philippines, police said Friday.
Police said an unidentified man lobbed the grenade at a crowd in Kabacan town in
North Cotabato province late Thursday, wounding at least six students.
There were no reports of casualties, but the explosion sent many people running away from the scene and dozens had been hurt in the stampede.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but police investigators suspect the attack was connected to a fraternity or gang war. Police ruled out terrorism as behind the blast. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 28 Sept) – To maintain its position being the major producer of rubber in the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here is targeting to develop an additional 20,000-hectare rubber plantation in Zamboanga Peninsula until 2010.
According to senior agriculturist Marcial Fantone, the expansion project will augment the region’s existing 35,000 hectares, which is currently the biggest area in the country planted with rubber.
He said the expansion project will be implemented “phase by phase.”
“We are developing at the rate of 5,000 hectares of new lands per year for rubber plantation,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Mr. Fantone said 60% of the expansion area will be in Zamboanga del Norte province and the rest will be in the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan.
To support the project, the DA through its research-arm is also set to establish more than 10 budwood gardens and nurseries in the emerging rubber production municipalities in Zamboanga Peninsula.
The DA regional office is presently maintaining 12 budwood gardens and nurseries which are located in different key rubber production areas in the region, Mr. Fantone said.
He said Budwood garden is where local farmers can avail the budded rubber planting materials. “Budwood garden served as the laboratory where the rubber plants are being budded, clone, and cultured.”
“An alternative means of providing low cost and available clonal planting materials is the establishment of budwood gardens and rootstock nurseries at the farmer level operated by farmer groups in each identified municipalities,” he said, adding that the establishment of budwood gardens and rootstock nurseries is a self-assistance program for the preparation of planting materials for the local farmers.
He said the expansion project will also aim to stimulate farmers to plant clonal planting material and to provide low cost planting materials which are available at the municipality level.
Mr. Fantone said the DA regional office is now conducting several trainings to local farmers to increase their capability to produce their own clonal planting materials.
He said this program needs very intensive guidance from local agricultural extensionists in all steps, from nursery preparation to grafting and transplanting to the field.
“We really have to train our local farmers with new techniques to maintain the supply of rubber seedlings, and to promote the propagation of the multibillion-peso rubber industry in this region,” he emphasized.
He said the project is inline with the government’s Rubber Industry Roadmap and to support the National Rubber Development Program that was launched in Kidapawan City early this month.
At present, the total area planted to rubber in the country is pegged at 81,925 hectares with Zamboanga Sibugay having the largest area with 19,576 hectares, followed by North Cotabato and Basilan.
He said the region has at least 32, 000 vacant lands that are very much suitable for rubber plantations.According to him, Zamboanga Peninsula has been the major rubber producer in the country, which contributes at least 48 percent of the total rubber productions in the country.
In 2003, rubber was the top export earner for Mindanao, registering sales of US$44.2 million from production volume of 32.8 million kilograms.Last year, Zamboanga Peninsula was able to produced 146,000 metric tons of raw dried rubber, slightly increased of 3% compared to the previous year with 143,000 mt.
Currently, farm-gate price of raw rubber ranges from P32 to P42 per kilo with 50 to 52% dry rubber content.
On the other hand, the semi-processed rubber are being sold at a price running between P92 to P96 per kilo, and expected to continue to increase up to 2015, due to huge demand both locally and abroad, Mr. Fantone said. (Mindanao Examiner)
Members of the 2nd Mechanize Infantry Brigade (Makasag) and Light Armor Brigade hold exercises in Dimapatoy quarry range in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao province. Col. Jorge B. Lomboy III, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, guides the gunners during the training that involved British-made Simba and U.S.-made Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle tanks. (Mindanao Examiner / Mark Navales)