Mindanao’s season of festivals bear a deeper meaning


John Tria John Tria

As July ends the festival season begins in Mindanao. Kadayawan in Davao City in mid-August, Cagayan de Oro's Higalaay Festival in late August, Adlaw hong Butuan in the first week of August, the Tuna Festival of General Santos and the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival in September.

These, among other numerous festivals and celebrations in various towns and cities, correspond to the peak of Mindanao’s fruit harvests. It is also a time when many Mindanaoans acknowledge respect and promote diversity and indigenous culture, including attire, cuisine and the immune system boosting native fruits.

Such festivals celebrate two things that set them apart from festivals in other parts of the country: abundance and diversity.

Yet the deeper lesson of these festivals for the rest of the nation is this: to understand and celebrate, rather than downplay and negate diversity. This serves as the antidote to the emergent discriminatory, haughty, prejudiced and exclusionary attitude that seem to be prevalent, especially online. These festivals inspire us to listen and communicate, creating a warm sense of inclusion as we face today’s challenges and bear tomorrows hopes.

From investment promotion to investment capture

The Strategic Investments Priorities Plan or the SIPP is one important legacy of the Duterte administration, which attests to the diligence and dedication of the economic team.

The SIPP is the first plan that assumes the game changing and hard won reforms that opens the economy to wider foreign investment such as the amended foreign investment act, Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Law and the CREATE Law, which already gave a blanket incentive in the form of lower corporate income taxes across the board, level up interest in investing in the country since our basic tax rates now mirror those of our ASEAN neighbors. Prior to this, our corporate income tax rates were higher than theirs by about five percent.

With these reforms opening more sectors to investment, the challenge is to capture more investments. Local private sector groups and public agencies must work together to lure new investors and help current ones expand to bring more table jobs and better value adding to local resources, giving farms, for instance the opportunity to find new buyers of produce. An investment promotion committee at the regional development council can help.

In a related development, Mindanao’s business community through Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Vice President for Mindanao Arturo Milan presented a recommendation to the new government. According to a Mindanao Times article, these include the continued Build, Build, Build in Mindanao, modernizing airports especially Laguindingan, Bukidnon, Mati, and Mlang. Likewise, upgrading seaports in Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos and Zamboanga. This will help improve local transportation and logistics. Along with this is the promotion of Mindanao tourism.

Other reforms recommended include promoting the manufacturing sector in Mindanao, reviving the paper, cotton and other industries and establishing an integrated steel mill. Likewise pushed were the digitizing of government processes and implementing the ease of doing business law and easier payment of taxes, and revisiting the electric cooperative.

For the social sector, it includes the improved provincial and local healthcare system, and in education, strengthening love of country, stronger science and math education and encouraging foreign universities to set up local branches to offer post graduate studies, as well as establishing regional science and innovation parks.

This also includes climate change adaptation, lower carbon footprint and calamity proofing of areas frequented by typhoon and natural calamities, sustainable water supply, smart agriculture a review of the land reform, and ancestral domain laws, and continuing the rehabilitation of Marawi