Go with the flow. Let go. Live on the edge.
These cliches took on a whole new meaning for me when I ventured into an unexpected journey to Mindanao during the Holy Week. In spite of the fear the recent kidnappings down South had initially evoked, I decided to join my brother and his friends to spend a few days of tranquility of body, mind and soul. Imagining myself on a paradise island with sandy white beaches, I immediately booked a red eye to Davao. Though they were going there to climb Mt. Apo, I had my own itinerary, to take the more familiar road of rest and relaxation in a less threatening environment. Comfort and safety first.
But this trip was to change my idea of fun. I was hoping for long quiet days in the sun, but ended up living out three days of being wild, on the edge, at the end of the rope. Literally, that is. It all happened so fast I barely had time to breathe.
Day 1: Go with the flow.
They live ordinary lives, a hint of affluent lifestyle glaringly absent as they go on with their daily routine at the farming village of Barangay Capayuran. Remegio and Julie Matalubos have been drawing in conflict-affected communities in the fringes of Liguasan Marsh to pursue peace through an ingenious method: turning the menacing water hyacinth into organic fertilizer. Water hyacinth is a major headache in Central Mindanao and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. An estimated 20 hectares of water hyacinth accumulated last year along the Rio Grande de Mindanao, causing massive flooding in Cotabato City and the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao. The floods forced tens of thousands of people to evacuation centers with agricultural damage estimated at P332 million. But for the couple, water hyacinths — rather than a curse — should be considered a source of hope to alleviate poverty and help establish peace in conflict-affected communities. The husband and wife team run the Grassroots Integral Development Initiative (GIDI) Natural Organic Fertilizer as part of their missionary work in the area. Describing themselves as “reformers,” Mr. Matalubos said their venture involves the participation of rebels belonging to either the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or the Moro National Liberation Front. “We coordinate with the commanders of both groups to gather water hyacinths in the Liguasan Marsh… Some of the laborers are Moro rebels,” he said. GIDI sources the water hyacinth from at least seven communities within the marsh, particularly in the towns of Pigcawayan and Midsayap. “It’s a big help to the community. It brings not only productivity but also unity among the residents,” Mr. Matalubos said. Zayda Indayla, one of the suppliers of water hyacinth, cited GIDI as a social enterprise that work well for the community, having involved several families. “It tremendously helped in making the communities peaceful. There’s not much trouble because people earn incomes,” Ms. Indayla said, noting that theft or robbery incidents have been reduced as residents have become productive. GIDI’s organic venture also benefits persons with disabilities who are hired in the production process, said Ms. Indayla, the wife of a soldier. Children as young as 12 years old, with the consent of their parents, are also involved in the water hyacinth production chain. “They seem to enjoy gathering the water hyacinths in the marsh. To them it’s like playing because they also swim,” Ms. Indayla said. A dried water hyacinth fetches P60 per sack. Water hyacinth is the major component (about 60%-70%) of the organic fertilizer that GIDI produces. It is mixed with other organic materials like guano and phosphate rocks. Other ingredients are also abundant in North Cotabato, said Mr. Matalubos, noting the reserves have largely remained untapped for a century. “There are 17 caves in the province, and we have only tapped three caves where we can get 200 bags from each daily,” he said. GIDI Natural Organic Fertilizer is a high-grade natural organic fertilizer made up of water hyacinth compost and century-old guano mined from the caves, a product briefer said. It has high organic matter contents capable of supplying complete nutrients needed by a plant, it added. The briefer also noted that the plant improves the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. GIDI sells the water hyacinth organic fertilizers for P250 per bag. Mr. Matalubos, who formulated the mixture, said their main buyers so far are banana and sugar plantations operating in different provinces in Mindanao. The production plant is capable of producing at least 10,000 bags of organic fertilizers from water hyacinth a month. The government, through the Department of Science and Technology, has extended technical and financial assistance to enhance the operation of GIDI. Using the water hyacinth organic fertilizers, GIDI also embarks on vermin-composting, which it sells at a much higher price of up to P400 per sack. Mr. Matalubos said they are glad to be an instrument of peace in North Cotabato. –Romer S. Sarmiento http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Water-hyacinth-venture-brings-livelihood,-peace&id=53343
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
MANILA — Senators on Tuesday approved on second reading a bill which seeks to carve out a new legislative district in North Cotabato.
The measure now has to go through third reading before it will be sent to the bicameral conference committee, the plenary of both houses of Congress and the President for it to become a law.
Under the House Bill 4111, the first legislative district shall be composed of the municipalities of Pikit, Pigkawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap, and Aleosan. The second legislative district will be comprised of Kidapawan City and the towns of Makilala, Magpet, Roxas, Antipas, and Arakan.
The towns of Banilisan, Carmen, Kabacan, Matalam, Mlang, and Tulunan shall constitute the proposed third legislative district.
KORONADAL CITY, June 1 (PIA) — Farmer-irrigators in North Cotabato will hold a tree-planting activity in Alamada town, where a target of 500 seedlings will be added to more than 7,000 seedlings that were planted earlier.
The activity scheduled on June 7 and 8 will also be participated by different government agencies in the area.
In line with this, the Department of Agriculture (DA-12) has distributed 8,000 arabica coffee seedlings, which will also be planted in Alamada as one of the climate change mitigation initiatives of the national government.
The distribution of arabaca coffee seedlings was coursed through the office of North Cotabato First District Rep. Jesus Sacdalan.
ANOTHER legislative district should be carved out in North Cotabato due to its growing population, a bill proposed in the Senate stated.
Citing data from the National Statistics Office, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the province’s population stood at 1,226,508 in 2010, a number which is vital in keeping the province’s leadership in the production of cereals, tropical fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, coconut, coffee, freshwater fish, and livestock.
KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/25 May) – Revenue officers in North Cotabato padlocked on Thursday one of the biggest grocery centers in Midsayap town due to its alleged failure to pay taxes amounting to P6 million.
Venerando Homez, head of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) District 108 based here, identified the store they served closure as PM Grocery Center. PM stands for Pablo Momo, the name of the owner of the establishment.
The closure order was issued by BIR Deputy Commissioner Nelson Aspe, according to Homez.
Records from the BIR showed that PM Grocery Center violated several provisions of Republic Act No. 7642, or an Act Increasing the Penalties for Tax Evasion, amending some pertinent sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines.
According to Homez, the owner underestimated his taxable income by more than 30 percent.
KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, May 1 (PIA) — Some 40 fisherfolk in confict-affected village in Midsayap, North Cotabato are set to benefit from tilapia fingerlings distribution and turn-over of nine units of fish ponds from the government.
Plan for the fingerlings dispersal and fish pond turn-over in the remote village of Olandang is being finalized by the office of North Cotabato 1st District Rep. Jesus Sacdalan and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and officials of the local government unit.
Dominador Aspacio, congressional district office staff, said the fingerlings will be dispersed free to help residents begin a sustainable livelihood.
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Authorities placed the whole city under tight watch following the transfer of a notorious Moro bandit to the Maguindanao Provincial Jail.
Security forces transferred Datukan Samad alias Commander Lastikman, from Kidapawan City to the provincial jail, which is located in Cotabato City, over the weekend. The transfer was made after theMidsayap City Regional Trial Court cleared him of a kidnapping case filed in 2007.
He was transferred to the provincial jail because he has other pending criminal cases in Maguindanao.
Security forces tightened the security in the city as Samad’s followers had tried to spring him from his detention cell in Kidapawan City last February.
Samad was transferred to the provincial jail by three teams from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, policemen and soldiers backed by combat vehicles.
MIDSAYAP, NORTH COTABATO — Officials of the government and leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separately vowed to put before their respective constituencies the proposed final peace agreement before it is signed.
“No final peace agreement will be signed without the government making it known to the people first,” Secretary Teresita Q. Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said in a statement issued on Saturday.
For the MILF, spokesperson Von Al-Haq stressed that the Moro rebels will continue its advocacy for transparency with the Bangsamoro people.
“Every development [in the peace process], we always bring it to the ground for consultation with our stakeholders,” he said on the phone on Sunday.
MANILA, Philippines http://sports.inquirer.net/44081/a-kick-for-peace-in-mindanao – Football in the Philippines is no longer just a sport, it has also become a way to bring peace to war-torn Mindanao – thanks to the Philippine Azkals.
Azkals team members Roel Gener and Eduard Sacapano will lead a football clinic at the Southern Christian College grounds in Midsayap, Cotabato on May 28 and 29. Both are regular military personnel from the Philippine Army.
Dubbed as “Football Para sa Kapayapaan 2012 [Football for Peace],” the event aims to teach children aged between 6 and 12 the virtue of sportsmanship and peace building.