Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mechanisms in brewing life the SMB way

San Miguel Brewery, Inc (SMB), being the largest and premiere beer manufacturer of the Philippines, is also one of the firms which is taking larger-than-life initiatives for environmental conservation and rehabilitation. While the company is savouring titanic success, it has laid out comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aimed at helping their host communities by caring for the environment and contributing to countryside development.

For two consecutive years, I have witnessed how serious SMB is in its Buhayin ang Kalikasan, an annual tree planting project that underscores its commitment towards responsible stewardship of the environment. To some interrelated magnitude, they christened the program TREES BREW LIFE which to me a manifestation of levelling up their tree growing efforts in order to infuse respect and care for life, not just human life but the rest of biodiversity.

Last August 13 I was commissioned by Meggy, a very good friend from SMB, to photo document their tree growing in Matina Pangi, Davao City. This has been their project area over the last four years. As usual, the enthusiasm of the employees to plant trees was very evident. They planted a total of 2,000 assorted seedlings in the extended portion of the Pangi river. As I roamed around I saw the trees planted a year ago which now started to develop greener and huge canopy.

I am sure there are so many attempts to do the same but SMB’s mechanisms spell a difference in sustaining the initiative. In 2013, the survival rate of the trees planted was at a whopping 94 percent. In 2014, the outcome is almost the same, generating an 89 percent survival count. The 2015 version has yet to be identified but when I joined Meggy in a site monitoring visit, majority of the trees grew well despite the El Niño phenomenon in summer this year.

WE'VE DONE OUR PART. Some friends in the media here in a souvenir shot
With representative from San Miguel Foundation Mr. Don Guerrero
It was just plain and simple why SMB is successful in brewing life, and for me the system has to be all-inclusive. First, they tapped the barangay government of Matina Pangi as their partner who is committed to monitor and take care of the trees planted. A site caretaker was assigned to practically perform cultural management practices while the seedlings are in their infant stage, which is definitely the most critical stage of the seedlings' lives. SMB also knocked the assistance of the City Environment Office and the community residing in the planting sites, recognizing their respective roles in sustaining the initiative. Indeed, multi-stakeholdership approach is categorically the name of the game.

With Matina Pangi Barangay Captain Carmelo Arana
Second, with CENRO’s guidance, appropriate tree species should be planted so as to attain higher growth proportion. In a riverbank stabilization for example, SMB planted Malibago trees, an ideal specie which is also known for its survival instinct despite instances of long dry spell and drought. It is also propagated asexually, which means that it has diffuse root system suitable for creating river to soil equilibrium.          

With SMB’s name associated to beverage brewing excellence, there is a fresh component that is integrated into its label and that is the care and esteem to life and it is manifested by growing more trees every year. 

P.S. My salute to the Barangay Captain of Matina Pangi Hon. Carmelo Arana for the all-out support to the Buhayin ang Kalikasan Project. I seldom encounter such attitude as admirable as Kapitan Arana in supporting environmental conservation and rehabilitation program.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mt. Hamiguitan Trail Race heads me back to an old home

It has been seven long months since I participated a trail run. My last official trail competition was on November 2016 during the Datu Salumay Run in Marilog District, Davao City where I completed the 32-kilometer course in roughly seven hours given with the technicality of the route. After which, I have not been able to pound the trail anymore.

Last June 25 I saw myself hammering the trails of Mt. Hamiguitan once again in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. This is the very first trail event held in the area after its official inscription as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Mt. Hamiguitan is an important piece of Mindanao’s natural heritage because of its rich biodiversity, and racing within this beautiful mountain connotes incredible experience other trail runs could not emulate or even equal.

Another good thing about the race is the loads of international accreditation it got from different organizations all over the world. I salute the initiative of the race director of this run Mr. Doi Calbes, a good friend of mine who used to work short stint with me in Mt. Apo, for the patience and courage to have the event accredited to International Trail Running Association (ITRA), Asia Trail Master, UTMB Mont-Blanc and Go Run Asia. It was also co-presented by the Department of Tourism XI and Local Government of San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

I took the 25-kilometer category considering the very short training I had prior to the race. Four new faces of trail running from St. Joseph Runners joined me in the race. Mountaineer Ronnie Torlao was adjudged 3rd Strong Finisher behind monster racers Juanito Mahinay and Jonathan Pido, while Jeffrey Mil and Romeo Brace won the 5th and 6th place, respectively. I was at far 26th place among the sixty runners who competed with a time of 6 hours and 3 minutes.

The race route was practically unusual for a trail run. It was composed of 10% pavement, 40% river crossing/trekking and 50% single track with the highest elevation reaching 735 meters above sea level. The turning point was at Siete Alteres summit, which also happened to be the highest point. Almost half of the run was interrupted by slight downpour, giving us another factor to endure. Prior to reaching Siete Alteres, we passed through several landmarks of Mt. Hamiguitan such as the site where Philippine Eagle Pamana was released last year and the Mt. Hamiguitan World Heritage Park Museum.

The river-crossing stage reminds me of my first climb to this mountain in 2008 as we took the same trail to the summit. We crossed it like 12 times before hitting the 7-kilometer mark. The crystal-clear water of the river was an instant power bar for me. Natural potable water sources along the way were visible and I obtained my hydration from it instead of the usual ration from Aid Stations. The single track were all surrounded with lush and green vegetation.

My Mt. Hamiguitan experience has reconnected me to my auxiliary hub – MOTHER NATURE.  All ingredients of my love to trail running were presented to me by God in this race and I am proud to have called it a success. Personally I surmounted it at a given time favourable with my short preparation but the most challenging part of it goes to the local government of San Isidro and other agencies involve in the protection of Mt. Hamiguitan. While talking to some friends there I learned that this heritage mountain lured the attention of illegal loggers, miners and even owners of banana plantations.

I hope authorities would be able to protect this mountain and would always stand tall as Davao Oriental’s landmark of disciplined people and environment-friendly leaders.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Be still and learn in awe at Manilay Heritage House

Before we went off Gumasa in Glan, Sarangani Province for the Sarbay Festival, we had a valuable side trip in General Santos City on June 3 in the afternoon in Manilay Ancestral House. It was a perfect opportunity for me to visit the place as I was looking for places with historical value the fact that I am in an early leg of crafting a historical tour package for my beloved hometown.   

Manilay Ancestral House is a heritage structure nestled in a modern city known for its contemporary attributes. The collection of old stuff here shows the tremendous interest of the owner on numismatism. It also shows extraordinary exhibit of patience, especially since all of the materials are gathered all throughout the country.  

We met the owner Mr. Warren Manilay in a separate venue in Gensan because he was busy with enrolment as he also runs a tertiary school there. There we were able to ask him several questions about his ancestral house project. He said it was coined out of a hobby, him being into it ever since. The house was then tailored continuously using old materials obtained from as far as Batangas in Luzon.

From the looks of it the house really declares a throwback theme but it was only erected in 2007. The architecture was well-researched by Sir Warren to camouflage it with yesteryears, which according to him also one of the hardships in the construction phase.

And then after construction he filled the house with his wide array of collections – from currency, music, religious materials, old pictures, etc. He even said the collection process was also extensive where he had to buy some of it from friends. He also used to visiting junk shops to scout for more valuable materials that would be part of his pool of antique resources.  

Outside the house is a display of vintage cars and motorbikes. Mr. Manilay revealed the cars are among his most expensive collections. Some of them not really familiar to me but I simply love the White Vintage Car, a favourite selfie background to some- if not all. There is also a Manny Pacquiao-inspired motorbike in the pool with actual signature of Manny. Sir Warren said the motorbike simply gained popularity all over Gensan as it was exhibited in one of the malls in the city and was unveiled in the very day Pacman celebrated his birthday.

The Manilay Ancestral House to me is a revelation of the hard work presented by the Manilay clan in Gensan. It has become now an integral part of the city tours and a destination for those who love to throwback. As Sir Warren would put it, “I want to make this an educational tour destination.” And with more people visiting the place, he is now planning to put other structures like coffee shop and function hall.

Truly, the Manilay Ancestral House is the right place to visit for those who love to reconnect with the past and for those who would like to savour the stillness of life.