Davao Aug 1 – 3
Monday morning we walked to Jollibee with +Dan for breakfast and Bong and I left for Davao about 8:30. As we were preparing to leave the students were gathering in the courtyard for their morning assembly.
The drive was good weather and beautiful Mindanao scenery. As we were arriving, Bishop Jonathan and some of his staff were leaving. He took the time to greet me before he left and invited me to the consecration of their new cathedral, due for completion in the fall of 2017.
We arrived in Davao about 2 pm, cooled off a bit and Bong took me shopping for souvenirs. We had trouble finding tourist-style souvenirs and ended up going to three different shopping areas. After shopping, we had dinner at a seafood restaurant on the water. It was one of those “tourist” settings, a table overlooking the ocean and the breeze blowing through the open-air restaurant. Good seafood and good San Miguel beer.
Tuesday morning we’re headed to some E-CARE projects in Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental, up to Tagum city past Tamisin and down to the end of the peninsula (where my on-line map doesn’t show any town names. Along the way is many acres of banana and coconut plantations. The banana plantations are still owned by large companies and so large that they use crop dusting planes to spray pesticides.
We were on the road about 5:30 am with our first stop in Tagum city and the Citronella processing project. The Gomez family (Father, Mother, and Son) operate this project of extracting citronella oil from citronella grass. It’s distilled, much like whiskey by cooking the grass and distilling off the vapor into liquid. There challenge is marketing as it’s a long process and expensive to obtain the necessary government permits and licenses. Right now they have a supply of citronella oil waiting to be marketed. They have a website – www.citronella.biz that describes their products.
Mrs. Gomez accompanied us to our next stop – a coconut processing project near the far end of the peninsula. This project is run by a group of women and their main products are coconut and corn coffee and coconut chips. They grow all the plants for their products in local farms. The leader, Concita Masin, is quite a character. She told a story worth repeating:
Several years ago the Philippine government passed a land reform law that called for privately help properties be returned to local residents. In this area, the coconut plantations were owned by absentee landlords. When the law was passed, they refused to comply and hired armed guards to keep the people from occupying the land. This woman borrowed some money and purchased a pig and two cases of brandy, and had a party for the guards. While they were eating and drinking, they stacked their weapons, and when they were drunk, the women collected the weapons and took them to the local police station. Eventually, the landowners were forces to give over the land to local residents, many of them are part of the coconut processing project.
We stopped in a fishing village on the way back and picked up a 60 kilo fish (blue marlin, I’m told) and brought it back to the diocesan center in Davao. We had some of it for breakfast this morning, made into soup.
I was exhausted by the time we returned to Davao (about 8 pm) and rested well. I’m packing for the 1-hour flight to Zamboanga at 12:50 pm. I appreciate Bong’s efforts to show me around and provide transportation. As always, the welcome and hospitality it fantastic.