#MINDANAO: Trends worth noting

Published July 7, 2021, 12:30 PM

by John Tria

The rare Southern Mindanao Sunday afternoon rain refreshes thoughts of previous columns about our changing climate.

Apart from the launch of the many new infrastructure projects we are seeing in many cities and the changing skylines I wrote about months back, the drizzle also brings thoughts of other changes and trends worth noting, which I write about in this column.

For one, we now have a better appreciation of how our economy is performing and recovering. Recent announcements by the governments economic team of reduced unemployment in May to 7.7% and an increase in the purchasing manufacturers index in June show increased economic activity. (https://mb.com.ph/2021/07/01/unemployment-rate-further-eases-in-may/)

As restrictions are eased especially around Metro Manila, and with more people being vaccinated, particularly the critical A4 economic frontliners rolling out in many areas, and Sunday’s announcement of protocols for interzonal travel in the country for vaccinated travelers, we may see more economic activity in the coming months.

These trends will probably be factored into the forecasts of many local companies and business groups which should all be taking a good look at their market, and the stock market.

Moreover, we will probably see more Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) initiated by local property companies in the Visayas and Mindanao following the listing of other developers in recent months. REITs are a special vehicle to raise capital for property development projects.

We hope that other remaining economic and tax reforms can be enacted, which can build a more resilient economy in the new normal.

Secondly, we are more interested in scientific developments and innovation. The updates by the Department of Science and Technology on Virgin Coconut oil as an adjunct therapy for COVID is sure to sustain interest in the coconut sector, a big chunk of which is in Mindanao. With the Coconut Levy Law finally enacted, hopes for a boost in this important agribusiness sector are high, with developments worth watching.

Likewise, the recent chip developed by students in the Mindanao State university Iligan Institute of Technology, with the assistance of the DOST’s PCIERD is sure to gain interest from the local scientific community.

These, and other innovations will surely be watched by an increasing number of Filipinos.

Third, the trend for more blended learning will also be looked at more closely by many educational institutions especially private schools as I wrote about in a previous column here: https://mb.com.ph/2021/06/23/mindanao-what-im-expecting-in-the-next-normal-for-universities/

The opportunity that needs to be examined by many schools especially in the Visayas and Mindanao is that blended learning, especially online courses, even short ones for professionals doing remote work can be deployed easily in many areas across the country and the world enabling a larger student population to partake of a school’s course offerings, no longer limited by physical spaces and residence.

I must reiterate that the need for new knowledge and skills is a basic need that will always be present in any society, more so now when an increased flexibility of skills is required to perform in the new normal. Educational administrators must understand this.

Perhaps a critical step is for local schools and universities to network with their local business groups to see what new skills will be needed by the workforce, and match it with what they can offer.

More on these and other trends next week.

My deepest sympathies and prayers for those affected by the C-130 crash in Sulu. Let us continue to stay safe!