Mindanao’s impressive 2022 growth



The recent announcement on the Mindanao Development Authority’s social media page that Mindanao’s average Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) growth rate reached 7.2 percent is impressive. All regions exhibited 2022 growth that exceeds my expectations. This ranged from the CARAGA region’s 5.9 percent to the Davao region’s 8.15 percent. Noteworthy is the fact that the Davao and Northern Mindanao regional economies are now worth almost a trillion pesos each.

What these numbers also show is that the island’s economy has bounced back from the pandemic slump. This exceeds expectations also because the growth took place despite high inflation in 2022. Inflation means high prices that cause people to spend less. Since inflation tends to undermine growth, would it have been the case that if inflation were lower than last year’s levels, would the growth rates be higher? Perhaps.

Moreover, if we look at the last 10 years, the growth pattern is roughly consistent with the 2022 figures. This may indicate that there are innate strengths in each region that consistently spur growth. These need to be harnessed more deeply in order to create wealth and local jobs. Let me elaborate on some of these.

First, Mindanao is a natural resource base. Mindanao’s mineral resources can be responsibly mined and processed into many of the products we would otherwise import, such as steel bars. If these minerals are processed into such products within the regions, imagine how much more value it would add to the local economy.

Second, Mindanao is our food basket. Producing almost half of our food supplies, the economic contribution can grow further if the food can be easily exported to other regions. It will also boost the manufacturing sector and create jobs if processed within Mindanao.

Third, Mindanao is your gateway to ASEAN. Its proximity to these growing economies can allow it to enter other supply chains and be part of intercountry economic systems. This creates more opportunities for exports.

If these strengths are harnessed, Mindanao will grow even more.

Lessons from the magical Iligan Bay sunset

Few sunsets in this country are about as beautiful as Iligan's. On late summer afternoons, it is a good 40-minute spectacle in the sky. As the bright orange sun slowly sinks into the sea, the hues in the horizon turn light orange, then pink to light purple. The movement of colors is an impressive animated painting. Eyes are fixed on subtle changes.
The midday heat of the prior hours is all but forgotten. It is replaced by a gentler, cooler breeze.

This prompts many locals to just drive up to points near the coast or even highways with a view just to witness this event. I pulled up and joined them at the road by the Mandulog River. It is clear to see that this diverse set of people from various backgrounds are all taken by the interplay of colors that captivate the senses.

As I look up to take in the view, my inner being is engaged, compelled to marvel at this perfect, slowly moving spectacle only God can make. Workday cares, personal worries, and even the incessant and intrusive social media noise that often jar the psyche tend to melt away, defeated by the wonder felt at the moving sight before me. It is His way of goading us to relax and trust in the process of constant change and growth He planned for us.

The awesome Iligan sunset is God's gentle reminder that He made nature and created us; and that He remains in control no matter what we or others think.