Cagayan de Oro is 3rd highest ranked PH metro in Oxford Economies 1,000 Global Cities Index

Cagayan de Oro recently ranked in the upper half of an index ranking 1,000 Global Cities conducted by an economic advisory firm based in Oxford, England.

The Index was compiled using five broad categories —Economics (including GDP size, growth and economic diversity); Human Capital (including educational attainment, corporate headquarters and population growth); Quality of Life (including life expectancy, income per person and recreation & cultural sites); Environment (including air quality, natural disasters and temperature anomalies); and Governance (scores are calculated at a national level so countries are shown to represent the major cities, with indicators including institutions, political stability and civil liberties)-with most weight given to economic factors such as GDP and employment growth.

 “Our Global Cities Index provides a consistent framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the largest 1,000 cities across the world, and when coupled with our forecasts, it enables organizations and policymakers to make more informed strategic decisions,” said Mark Britton, director of city services at Oxford Economics, based in Oxford, England.

Not surprisingly, the Philippines four metropolitan areas all rated in the upper half of the cities ranked: Manila (256), Cebu (436), Cagayan de Oro (487) and Davao (500).

Of the 55 Southeast Asian Cities included in the 1,000 Global Cities, Cagayan de Oro was the highest ranked city in Mindanao (26th), with only Manila (4th) and Cebu (18th) ranked higher. Other Mindanao cities included in the SEA Group were Davao (29th), Zamboanga (48th) and General Santos (51st).

Overall, Cagayan de Oro ranked best in Environment (338), followed by Economics (450), Human Capital (514) and Quality of Life (626).

The Global Cities Index

Cities are the driving force behind our global economy. They are the engines for national economic growth, centers for education and innovation, and seats of political power.

In 2023, the 1,000 largest cities in the world accounted for 60% of global GDP and over 30% of the world’s population—and the importance of cities will only continue to grow in the future.

In the decade preceding the Covid-19 outbreak, 70% of cities outperformed their respective countries in terms of either GDP or employment growth. But beyond economic strength, cities lead in other domains as well. They tend to have more educated populations and better access to services, as compared to their countries as a whole.

In 2023, the 1,000 largest cities in the world accounted for 60% of global GDP. This is not just a regional or high-income country story though.

Oxford Economics’ 1,000 Global Cities are located across the world, in both advanced and developing countries. Metropolitan areas in 163 countries are represented in their 1,000 Global Cities, and the phenomena described above are present in cities in every region of the world, across income levels.

The importance of cities is well documented, but comparing metropolitan areas in different countries and regions can be challenging due to disparities in data collection and inherent structural differences across cities.

Nonetheless, assessing the relative strengths and importance of cities around the world is valuable for businesses, academics, and policymakers alike to be able to make informed decisions. Hence, these comparisons must consider more than just economic output or growth; there are several dimensions that can make a city attractive to residents and investors.

To address this issue, Oxford Economics came up with this 1st Global Cities Index.

Covering over 200 countries, over 100 industrial sectors, and 8,000 cities and regions, they provide insights and solutions that enable clients to make intelligent and responsible business decisions faster in an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

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Cover photo courtesy of Froilan Gallardo

Celebrating Southern Narratives

XU Press launches two new anthologies at Basa Books

XU Press has launched two important books by two illustrious authors, celebrating the opening of the Kagay-anon owned and operated Basa Books at the 3rd Level of Ayala Centrio Mall on April 11, 2024.

We were indeed thankful to be favored with an exclusive media invitation for the event, dubbed Celebrating Southern Narratives featuring  Calbi Anji Asain’s Bride Price and Other Stories, and Maria Elena Paulma’s Balangay, celebrating a milestone at the Grand Opening Week of Basa Bookshop.

(Image Courtesy of Jesse Abear)

“The two books are a testament to XU Press’s mission of prioritizing publications that bring awareness to historical and cultural realities in Mindanao,” Arlene J. Yandug, PhD, XU Press Director noted. “This is in line with XU’s mission of engaging in the ‘authentic search for truth’ and appreciation of our culture and heritage.”

With Dr. Maria Elena Paulma and XU Press Director Arelene Yandug.

Balangay Stories

Palanca Award-winning author Maria Elena Paulma weaves together tales inspired by the ancient balangay boats discovered in Butuan City. These wooden vessels, uncovered in 1976, tell the story of “maritime people who were already producing and trading gold, pottery, cloth, oil and beeswax with 11th century China, long before the Spaniards even heard of the fabled Spice Islands.”

(Image courtesy of XU Press)

Through vivid narratives, Paulma transports readers into the Kingdom of Butuan, where they’ll “meet the old Butuanons, the community or barangay members who built the balangay without the use of blueprints.” These skilled seafarers and artisans passed down their maritime traditions orally, as “boats were the only means of transportation at that time.”

As Paulma wrote in the book’s epistolary introduction, the reader is invited to rediscover for himself or herself “that which was lost, replaced, or erased, and what it truly means to be a Filipino.” Using the iconic balangay boat of Butuan as a metaphor for the early Filipinos, Paulma said she wanted to bring the stories to the inner world of the Filipino family.  “I wanted to write for the children not only of Mindanao, but of the Philippines. I wanted them to enter the pre-colonial world of the Philippines, to emphasize that as Filipinos we were talented, we were gifted, we were a rich nation even before the colonizers came,” Paulma explained during the book launch.

Book signing with Dr Maria Elena Paulma, author of Balangay Stories (RMB)

Born in Butuan City, Maria Elena Paulma specialized in Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at UP Diliman where she earned all her degrees. Her short story “Three Kisses” won the First Prize in the 2010 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

As a fellow in the 2016 Fulbright Senior Scholars program, she did research on women’s literature at the Northwestern University in Illinois. Her first book, Southern Stories and Strays by UP Press, was a finalist at the 37th National Book Awards in 2018.

Bride Price and Other Stories

This short fiction collection, a recipient of a Publishing Grant from the National Book Development Board (NBDB) in 2023 and the Publishing Fund for Moro and Lumad Writers of Mindanao established by Ricardo de Ungria, offers a window into the lives of the Tausug people of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Philippines. Asain explores themes of adventure, friendship, relationship, marriage, and family, alongside the crucible of land, culture, politics, and ethnic identity.

(Image courtesy of XU Press)

Showcased at the Frankfurter Buchmesse in Germany last year as part of Philippine Books’ curation and launch, Asain’s work reflects not only the diversity of our experiences as an archipelagic country, but also the richness of our literary expressions.

 “I consider writing as my advocacy, and my output such as this one, I consider them as my legacy to my people. To the people of Sulu especially, but also to the whole country,” Dr. Asain said in a video message from Sulu where he is recuperating from a recent illness.

Dr. Calbi Anji Asain, author of Bride Price & Other Stories. (image courtesy of XU Press)

“I hope you will find time to buy and read my book, we should promote our local literature produced by our local artists such as myself, because local literature should be promoted in all our provinces throughout the country.”

Dr. Calbi Anji Asain is a retired Prof. III and former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Mindanao State University-Sulu (MSU-Sulu). He is a lifetime member of the Philippine National Historical Society (PNHS). At present, he is a member of the Executive Council of the National Committee on Historical Research (NCHR) in the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

For their part, Basa Books explained their advocacy in promoting local authors and literature. “We are offering our space for book launches and we want to feature local authors, Mindanao authors on the shelf,” said Atty. Maricel Seno, managing partner of Basa Books.  To generate interest, she said, “we will spotlight their books on the shelves where they are placed with their specific genres.”

With Basa Books Managing Partner Atty Macel Seno

“We really want to democratize book buying and exposure to literature which is why we want to ensure that our books are not expensive so we curate our selections to ensure they’re good books and we pass on our savings to our customers,” she added.

To give the audience a foretaste of the two books, excepts from Balangay were read by Dr. Heide Rabanes, Dean for Research at Xavier Ateneo, and from Bride Price by Anglica Napone and Chel Sea Obsioma, students in a Creative Writing class.

The launch was graced by members of the Nagkahiusang Manunulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC) and  prominent writers based in Cagayan de Oro: from left to right: RM Topacio-Aplaon – 41st NBA Grand Winner – Best Novel in Filipino, novelist from Imus, Cavite, Feb 24 2024 Awards night); Jan Rupert Alfeche, Raul G Moldez PhD, Aimee Abella, Abigail James (Emcee), EJ Villena (City Museum of CDOC and Heritage Center), and Alessandro Nioda. (image courtesy of Jesse Abear)

In celebration of its Grand Opening Week, Basa Books is offering an exclusive special launch price for both books from April 8-14, 2024 with Bride Price and Other Stories (P350) and Balangay (P295) only.

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NUSTAR revolutionizes online gaming with NUSTAR Max

NUSTAR Max, the official online gaming platform of NUSTAR Resort and Casino, offers an extensive range of betting options with over 30 sports games and soon, live table games, e-games, and more.

With state-of-the-art technology, leveraging from its iGaming partners and sports and e-games providers, NUSTAR Max promises to deliver an exciting, engaging, and immersive experience to its users while ensuring transparency, security, and fair play for all its patrons.

Summer Promo

            NUSTAR Max will make everyone’s summer hotter by giving away free 200 credits starting April 6, 2024. Players can win over P1.5 million jackpot. To join, register now at www.nustaronline.ph or visit NUSTAR Max’s social media pages (@nustar.max) for more information.

Events and Activities

            Catch NUSTAR Max in all the Robinsons Malls near you for a chance to win exclusive merchandise. Starting March 2024, the gaming platform has kicked off its first leg of the mall tour and will continue to reach you through the nearest Robinsons Malls in the following months.

This month, NUSTAR Max will be in Robinsons Cainta, Luisita, and Lipa from April 12-14 and in Robinsons EDSA Galleria, Angeles, and General Trias on April 26-28.

Aside from giving away special items, NUSTAR Max representatives will assist you with a quicker and easier registration process at their booth. Stay tuned for mall activation schedules by visiting our website at www.nustaronline.ph and following us on our social media accounts (@nustar.max).

Partnerships

The basketball fever continues as NUSTAR Max partners with two of the biggest basketball leagues in the country, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Through this collaboration, the gaming platform aims to deliver exceptional sports entertainment by giving users direct access to thrilling basketball action. With this, NUSTAR Max will become the go-to destination not only for basketball enthusiasts, but also for all sports fans seeking unparalleled excitement and fun. For PBA and MPBL game schedules, follow our social media pages (@nustar.max).

Sign-up

To register, visit our website at www.nustaronline.ph and click on the “Sign Up” button in the center of the screen. Fill out the registration page with all the required information and prepare one (1) valid government-issued ID to complete the registration process. Once completed, our customer support team will reach out to you for the verification process within seven (7) days.

You can then enjoy a wide range of sports including basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, and more. With over 30 sports games available, the excitement never ends.

Deposit and Withdrawal

Patrons can deposit and withdraw through GCash, Maya, and other over-the-counter payment options.

The initial deposit for NUSTAR Max is Php100, the maximum daily deposit is Php50,000, and the minimum bet is Php100. Depending on the odds and sports category, the winning ticket must not exceed Php5,000,000.

            For withdrawals, the minimum per day is Php100, while the maximum is Php20,000 per transaction.

For more information, visit www.nustaronline.ph or contact our customer support team.

As NUSTAR Max continues to innovate and expand, it invites everyone to sign up, discover new thrills on the platform, and get a chance to WIN TO THE MAX!

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Northern Mindanao has most number of ‘Region-Specific’ Infra Flagship Projects for 2023-2028

Northern Mindanao has the most number of “Region-Specific” projects under the Philippine Medium Term Development Plan for 2024-2028.

According to data from the Infrastructure and Utilities Development Committee of the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Council (RDC-X InfraCom) , Northern Mindanao has 15 of the 133 Region-Specific projects listed for an 11.3% share of the total, or 8.1%  of the total Infrastructure Flagship Projects listed, including the 15 nationwide and 24  inter-regional projects.

The P397.41 billion Region X specific IFPs account for 4.3 percent of the P9.143 trillion total of the country’s 185 listed Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) for the period.

The Northern Mindanao region has been allocated the biggest number of IFPs for “Region-Specific” Projects after the National Capital Region in recognition of its emergence as the Philippines fourth emerging metropolitan area.

The 185 IFPs are distributed across various regions, with 133 projects (or 72%) percent to be implemented in specific regions. NCR has the highest number of IFPs among the regions with 30 projects, followed by Region X with 15 projects, and Region III with 13 projects.

Among Region X’s projects with the highest allocations are the Mindanao Railway Project Phase 3 (Northern Mindanao) P111.08-B; Central Mindanao High Standard Highway Construction Project P102.71-B; Naawan-Opol-Cagayan de Oro City-Villanueva Expressway (MisOrEx) P46.68-B; Cagayan de Oro Coastal Road (Puerto-Gusa Section) P36.115-B;  and Cagayan de Oro Bus Rapid Transit P23.38-B.

Mindanao Railway Project Phase 3 (Northern Mindanao) Image courtesy of Dept. of Transportation.

 “The Infracom under  Chair Gov. Peter Unabia fully supports the reorganization of the Technical Working Group which includes the LGU of Cagayan de Oro for the fast tracking of the Non Structural Measures for the FRIMP CDOR , so that the dike project can already be turned over by JICA to the LGU,” noted Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, RDC-X InfraCom Co-Chair.

“This is an important development as there are two major JICA funded infra projects for the region such as the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) expansion and the Trans Central Mindanao Highway project, which need immediate attention,” he explained.

“We also have gotten the support of the Academe (Xavier Ateneo and USTP) and the private sector (IECEP-NM) in the installation of a Flood Early Warning System for the Cagayan River and its tributaries plus an updated Flood Hazard Mapping system of the river and its watershed areas.”

Similarly, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority (PHIVIDEC IA) Administrator & CEO Atty. Joseph Donato J. Bernedo stressed the MCT Phase 2 expansion is a key priority project PHIVIDEC IA intends to undertake in celebration of their 50th year anniversary and in the coming years. 

“All steps are currently being undertaken to bring this project into fruition, including coordinated efforts with the province of Misamis Oriental and the different LGUs, as well as with national government agencies and departments,” Bernedo noted.

“This project is a crucial component in the further development of the region as it will double the capacity of our port and bring in major stakeholders in the shipping industry, thereby creating revenue streams, supply chain influx, job generation, and such other multiplier effect factors,” he  

The NEDA Board approved on 27 February 2024 the updated list of IFPs. These projects are aligned with the priorities under the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the President and the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

These high-impact and urgently needed infrastructure projects aim to showcase the government’s Build-Better-More program.

Accordingly, the IFPs shall be prioritized under the government’s annual budget preparation and shall benefit from the expedited issuance of applicable permits and licenses consistent with current legal frameworks.

NEDA has been designated as the lead agency that will monitor the implementation of the IFPs as part of its monitoring functions.

Meanwhile,  the RDC-X InfraCom recently endorsed the P256.345-Billion Priority Infrastructure Projects for FY 2024 and other initiatives to accelerate infrastructure development in Region X at the DPWH-X Conference Room, Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City.

The Committee evaluated and endorsed the respective FY 2025 budget proposals of nine Infrastructure sector agencies namely, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board – Region X (LTFRB-X), Land Transportation Office – Region X (LTO-X), Maritime Industry Authority – Region X (MARINA-X), National Telecommunications Commission – Region X (NTC-X), Department of Information and Communications Technology – Region X (DICT-X), National Irrigation Administration – Region X (NIA-X), Coast Guard District – Northern Mindanao (CGD-NM), and the Department of Public Works and Highways – Region X (DPWH-X). Also evaluated and endorsed were the FY 2025 budget proposals of the 10th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, and the NBI Standard Office Building in Iligan City.

The initial total amount of the FY 2025 proposed budget of the Infrastructure sector agencies endorsed by the Committee is P 256.345 billion, pending additional recommendations as discussed by the committee.

The Committee also deliberated and endorsed the Reorganization of the Technical Working Group for the Coordination of the Non-Structural Measures for the Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan River (FRIMP-CDOR), the implementation of the Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Services (CMTS) and Broadband Mapping of Region X of DICT-X, Formulation of Provincial Integrated Water Security Plans, and the Proposed Infrastructure for Safer and Resilient Schools Project of the Department of Education.

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CDO Food Fest

CDO Bloggers explore the best lokal flavors at SM CDO Downtown

Text & Pictures by CDOBies Food Crawlers

Cagayan de Oro City’s premier bloggers group recently undertook one of its primary advocacies by teaming up with SM CDO Downtown to promote local brands to the world.

Tagged as the CDO Food Fest, the half day food crawl organized by SM Information Officer Carlston Barcenella Maglangit,  explored the best local flavors and award-winning dishes from the following regional brandsArturo’sBackyard BarbecueBud’z CafeBugsay Seafood Restaurant-CDOOut of Nowhere Kitchen CDOPanagatan RestaurantPOPS Buffet CDO Cagayan de Oro, and Ribs & Bibs.

“SM Supermalls coordinated this CDO Food Fest in recognition of CDO Bloggers as the longest running bloggers organization in Cagayan de Oro, promote CDO with more creative content, and in support of Pres. Karen Chayne Sanchez,” Mr. Maglangit said. “We also did this to promote our local restaurants in SM CDO Downtown as a show of support for our tenants, knowing CDO Bloggers have many followers which could help promote their latest offerings.”

The CDO Food Fest was joined by the following  Food Crawlers from CDO Bloggers: Aj Pajaron TvAround CDOCDO LifestyleCDO VibesCookie’s CornerJournaling MomLadysodaMetro Cagayan de OroMommy LavScribblescdoShaiTalks.comand Tsada Lokal.

“I’m was stunned to say the least about the creativity and excellence of our local brands,” noted Metro Cagayan de Oro’s “Tito Mike”. “The Crispy Ulo from Arturo’s, Daddy Backribs and RnB Sampler from Ribs & Bibs are simply out of this world! And the Kinilaw and Buko Halo from Salo-Salo sa Panagatan may sound mundane, but it’s no wonder they are their  all-time favorites, in much the same way Backyard BBQ’s Texan Burger and Chicken Fingers are. I will definitely recommend these in my blog and in Metro Cagayan de Oro Times!”

Aside from the “Chada Lokal” brands, CDO Food Fest also featured favorites from two outstanding regional brands: Out of  Nowhere (OON) originally from Tagum City, Davao del Norte, and Bugsay Siargao from the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, also voted as the Best Island in Asia in the 2021 Conde Nast Travelers Readers Awards.

Asian Grilled Skewers & Seafoods Galore from Out of Nowhere Kitchen

Bannered by its signature Asian Grilled SkewersOON spread a veritable feast for us food crawlers with their Grilled Scallops, Chili con Nachos, Seafood Aligue Pasta, Seafood Chowder, Asian and  Caribbean Chicken, and Pomelo salad.

Of course, Bugsay Siargao rolled out its seafood métier as an Island in the Pacific with their unique regional faves like Adobong Saang, Letty’s Signature Siargao Mud Crabs, Bugsay Shrimp Roll, Adobong Pusit with Ata, Kinilaw à la Mario, Bugsay Bouillabaisse, and their Special Sapin-Sapin with Nangka filling which was such a sweet, delightful surprise!
Croissants go best with Bud’z Cafe Atypica Arabica Coffee

Not the least, for the digestif, we were treated to a drip coffee pouring of single origin Typica Arabica coffee by no less than the owner of Bud’z CaféEdward Asok. Matched with what must be some of the best croissants in town baked by his brother Emman, ‘twas a perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.

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Rediscovering History

MacArthur’s return to Northern Mindanao in June 1945

During the 75th Anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s arrival in Cagayan de Oro on March 13, 1942 on the first leg of his famous Breakout from Corregidor, I joined a group of reenactors who traced the route of the convoy he took from the Macabalan Port to Del Monte Airfield in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

75th Anniversary Reenactment of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s arrival in Cagayan, Misamis Oriental on March 13, 1942 following his famous Breakout from Corregidor (photo courtesy of Rich Neri Concepcion)

At the time on March 13, 2017, the convoy was intended to reenact his short trip from port to airstrip, the only difference being that grade school children from most public schools along the route from Puntod to Manolo Fortich lined the streets waving Philippine, American and Japanese flags, thanks to the support of the Department of Education.

When we got to the MacArthur Memorial at Damilag, Manolo Fortich, however, we were surprised that the local government which was celebrating its centennial as a municipality had prepared a convoy of vintage jeeps and trucks to take us around the town. Unbeknownst to us, we had inadvertently reenacted an event in history that happened three years after the Breakout.

Originally, MacArthur’s escape from Corregidor was considered top secret and high risk since at that time, the ill-equipped, malaria-stricken troops of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) were on their last legs and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to escape to Australia to lead the Allied counterattack against the Japanese Empire.

Just recently, however, I found out that there was indeed a historical basis for the two latter events with the children welcoming MacArthur along the roads to Malaybalay and going around the capital town of Bukidnon, thanks to James Zobel, archivist of the MacArthur Memorial in Cagayan de Oro’s sister city of Norfolk, Virginia.

Grand Tour

On June 3, 1945, US Eight Army Commander Lt Gen Robert L Eichelberger reported to General MacArthur aboard the cruiser USS Boise in Manila. Earlier General MacArthur had told him he wanted to see the places where Eighth Army had been fighting.

Lt General Robert L Eichelberger and General Douglas MacArthur

“He talked about the desperation of those last days in Luzon. He told me about President Roosevelt’s personal communication which ordered him to Australia, and of his unwillingness to leave General “Skinny” Wainwright there on Bataan to struggle to the inevitable end,” Eichelberger relates in his book “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo.”

The cruiser’s first stop was to be in Mindoro, and the second at Macajalar Bay. They were following the route by which General MacArthur and his family had escaped from the Philippines. They had traveled by PT boat and by night from Luzon. At the first dawn they headed into Mindoro and slept the day. When darkness came again they were hurried through uncertain and rough water to Macajalar Bay. There, General MacArthur told me, he lived for several days with his wife and infant son and a few staff officers at Del Monte (a few miles inland) until airlift was provided from Australia.

Gen Douglas MacArthur, his family and general staff stayed at Del Monte on March 13-17, 1942. (Photos courtesy of MacArthur Memorial)

On June 5, 1945, the  Boise dropped anchor in Macajalar Bay off Tin-ao, Barrio Agusan in Cagayan, where the 108th Regimental Combat Team (108th RCT) landed on May 10, 1945 and drove up the Sayre Highway in Bukidnon, cutting the defending Japanese Forces in two and effectively ending the enemy’s organized resistance in Mindanao later the same month.

USS Boise Ship Log Entry for 5-6 June 1945 (image via Jun Dumaog)

As noted in the foregoing entry in the USS Boise’s ship’s log for 5 June 1945, General MacArthur and his inspection party disembarked at 0755 HRS aboard an LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel also known as Higgins Boats after its inventor Adrew Higgins) which was escorted by PT Boats for its landing in Agusan, Cagayan.

The 108th RCT landed on Brown Beach, (here marked as Beach No. 12) Tin-ao, Barrio Agusan, Cagayan on May 10, 1945. (NARA)

After the initial landing in Parang on Mindanao and the rapid push to Davao City and the south end of the Malaybalay Plain area, it became evident that the Japanese were withdrawing to the high ground in the central Bukidnon Davao Province area. The 108th RCT reinforced landed at Agusan on 10 May 1945 and by rapid movement completely disrupted the Japanese in this area and gave them no time to occupy a highly prepared defensive position designed to protect the northern entrance to Del Monte.

This map traces Gen. MacArthur’s 129 mile, eight hour overland inspection trip on 05 June 1945 originating from Barrio Agusan, Cagayan where the 10th RCT landed on 10 May 1945 to the 31st Infantry Division Headquarters in Malayabaly, Bukidnon.

The 108th RCT pushed down into the Del Monte area against moderate resistance mainly at the Mangima River Canyon, broke out into the plain from Malaybalay and made a juncture with the 31st Infantry Division north of that town (on 23 May). At that time the 108th RCT passed to control of the 31st Division.

Originally, Eichelberger planned to tour MacArthur overland to Del Monte, where they would take a plane to Malaybalay. Following is the original itinerary:

CAGAYAN

5 June 1945

Arrive 0800

Depart 1900

ITINERARY:

Land at Cagayan or Agusan.

Proceed overland to Del Monte, passing Japanese positions designed to prevent our movement into the Malaybalay area from the north.

Inspect troops and installations at Del Monte.

Present decorations.

Fly from Del Monte to Malaybalay, viewing combat area en route.

Visit Headquarters 31st Division.

Lunch at 31st Division Headquarters.

Return by plane to Del Monte.

Motor transport to Agusan; embark on cruiser.

COMMANDERS:

X Corps:  Major General Franklin Sibert.

31st Infantry Division: Major General Clarence A. Martin.

108th Task Force: Brigadier General Robert Shoe.

108th Infantry: Lieutenant Colonel Maurice D. Stratta.

(From Record Group 41, Eichelberger Papers, Official Correspondence, June 1945, courtesy of James Zobel, Archivist, MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk, Virginia)

 “I had suggested that we go to Malaybalay by air, but General MacArthur wanted to make the overland trip. All the bridges over the gorges were now replaced, but I am sure the Allied commander got a very clear picture of the dreadful terrain with which the 108th RCT and the 31st Division had wrestled. The road was still a rambling wreck, and-Malaybalay and return-it was a pounding and spine-cracking ride. There were turnabouts and roundabouts and all sorts of detours,” Eichelberger recalled.

Gen Douglas MacArthur stayed at this room at Del Monte Lodge from March 13-17, 1942.

In Del Monte, MacArthur made a side trip to the Del Monte Country Club where his family and general staff had laid over from March 13-17, 1942. However, after an extensive search, they found that bombs had demolished the building; only the foundations, now overgrown by vegetation, remained to remind one that there once had been riches and luxury in Northern Mindanao. And that, though man has only a short memory, nature has none.

On the drive from Cagayan in a jeep going South to inspect front line positions in Malaybalay on June 5, 1945. (MacArthur Memorial)

“On the return trip to Agusan the rains, which had taken a holiday, started in again. On several occasions bulldozers pulled out of deep mudholes the jeep in which General MacArthur and I were riding. Traveling time for the hundred-and-twenty-mile trip was then about eight hours, but General MacArthur never once acknowledged physical discomfort. My own teeth were clicking like castanets and my sacroiliac was in painful revolt. There were occasions on makeshift bridges when I put more stock in prayer than in the timbers which supported us. However, nothing happened,” Eichelberger recollected.

“General MacArthur and I are both lucky,” he wrote his wife, “that we are not this moment looking up at the Sayre Highway-with the rain in our faces-from the ground floor of a canyon. What a road!”

The Boise sailed that night, and during the next two days visited Cebu, Negros, and Panay. It was to be the last time that the “Liberator of the Philippines” would ever visit Mindanao.

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Cagayan de Oro Rising

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Residents and stakeholders of this capital city of Northern Mindanao were recently treated to the inspiring news that it has become the second richest city outside Metro Manila.

The report was contained in the Provincial Product Accounts (PPA) of the 16 pilot regions outside the National Capital Region (NCR), covering 82 provinces and 17 Highly Urbanized Cities (HUCs) from November to December 2023 released for the first time by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PPA is a mechanism to compile the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the subnational level.

The Special Release highlighted the economic performance of all provinces and HUCs included in the PPA compilation in 2023, particularly in terms of their per capita GDP, which is defined as the estimated average contribution of each individual to the GDP.

The PSA report showed Cagayan de Oro City has the second highest Per Capita GDP of the pilot 10 Provinces and Highly Urbanized Cities outside Metro Manila with P343,936 in 2022, trailing only Baguio City.

It also had the highest Per Capita GDP among the cities and provinces surveyed in the Visayas and Mindanao.

However uplifting this latest news may be, there have been many previous signs that this City of Golden Friendship was on a steady uptrend, despite the debilitating effects of the recent pandemic.

Already, it accounts for the lion’s share of the Northern Mindanao economy, contributing 2.6 percent of the region’s 7.2 percent growth in 2021-2022.

Cagayan de Oro City similarly accounted for 28 percent of the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Northern Mindanao with P261.8-billion (at constant 2018 prices).

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority Region X, Cagayan de Oro City recorded the highest growth rate among the provinces and highly urbanized cities of Northern Mindanao in 2022, expanding at 9.4 percent. It was also the fastest growing HUC in Mindanao, finishing in a virtual tie with Butuan City, which grew at 9.5 percent.

In the latest Philippines Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Cagayan de Oro City ranked as the 7th Overall Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in 2023, up one rank higher than the previous year. The city was also ranked 2nd in Resiliency, 5th in Innovation, 7th in Government Efficiency, 7th Most Improved Highly Urbanized City, and 8th in Infrastructure.

Metropolis in the Making

According to the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028, Cagayan de Oro is expected to be the Philippines’ fourth metropolitan area by 2025, based on its projected population growth, strategic location as gateway and logistics hub for Northern Mindanao, and role as a key education center in the south.

In fact, metropolization has already begun as evidenced by the increasing share of Cagayan de Oro to the National GDP in 2022, already third behind the established metropolitan areas of Davao and Cebu.

As the regional center and business hub of Northern Mindanao, the Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro area includes the city of El Salvador; fourteen municipalities of Misamis Oriental (AlubijidBalingasagClaveriaGitagumInitaoJasaanLaguindinganLibertadLugaitManticaoNaawanOpolTagoloan, and Villanueva);  and six municipalities of Bukidnon (Manolo FortichBaungonLibonaMalitbogSumilao and Talakag). 

Resilient Regional Economy
Cagayan de Oro’s reputation as the standard bearer for the Northern Mindanao economy has been further bolstered by the resiliency showed by Region X following the recent pandemic.

After shrinking by 5.3% in 2019-2020, the Northern Mindanao regional economy surged to a 6.3% growth in 2020-2021, a P97.4-B turnaround that spoke volumes of its resiliency. The following year, it accelerated further by 7.2%.

Region 10 expanded by 7.2% in 2022, with total GRDP valued at P935 billion at constant 2018 prices.

In nominal terms, Northern Mindanao joined the ranks of trillion-peso economies registering P1.07-trillion in total output at current prices last year. (with inputs from  NEDA/RDC-X and PSA-10) (cover photo by Raphy M. Arcaina)

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10th TCO-SEED Commencement Exercises : A brighter future assured for 120 Auto Tech Servicing Graduates

Some 120 automotive technicians recently graduated from Toyota Cagayan de Oro’s training institution, a big boost to expanding the city’s pool of trained industry personnel.

The Toyota Cagayan de Oro Socio-Economic & Environmental Development Inc. (TCO-SEED) held its 10th Commencement Exercises for six batches of Automotive Servicing NC1 technicians (Batch 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18) with the theme: “Embarking on the Journey of a Thousand Possibilities” on March 14, 2024, at the Toyota Cagayan de Oro (CTO) Showroom along C.M. Recto Avenue, Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City.

“Now more than just becoming an automotive technician, you also know how to do your own business, you also know how to stand to become your own boss, or proceed to expand your skills and knowledge further with more trainings,” said Dr. Nancy U. Ramirez, TCO 1st Vice President & TCO-SEED School Director in her welcome address.

Dr. Nancy U. Ramirez, TCO 1st Vice President & TCO-SEED School Director.

“However, while we will always be here to support you in any way we can, your future lies in your own hands, and it is you who will have to decide and act on what you want to be in the future,” she added.

Graduates of the TCO-SEED in Iligan have undergone the USAID 2.0 Scholar Program funded by the Bank of America through the Education Development Center (EDC) where they learn topics e.g. Be Your Own Boss, Higher Education Readiness Orientation, 21st Century Skills, Financial Management, Alternative Learning System, Pathway for Orientation for Youth, Work Based Learning, and Blue & Green Economy Seminar.

In recognition of the importance of partnership between industry and TESDA, Toyota Cagayan de Oro and TESDA Misamis Oriental Provincial Training Center signed a Memorandum of Agreement with TESDA Region X Regional Operations Division Chief Austolio V. Igot, Misor PD Marigold Cherie Garrido, Misor Provincial Training Center CDO (PTC CDO) Administrator Ramon Pacana, and TCO-SEED School Director Dr. Nancy U. Ramirez.

Signing of the Memorandum of Agreement.

This collaborative effort aims to bolster the delivery of quality Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs in Northern Mindanao, bridging the gap between industry needs and skilled workforce development.

By forging partnerships with key industry players like Toyota Cagayan de Oro and advocacy-driven organizations such as Kaya Na Youth, TESDA seeks to provide students with relevant skills and knowledge aligned with the demands of the industry and other sectors.

Under the terms of the MOA, TCO commits to providing technical expertise, equipment, and resources necessary to enhance the training programs offered by TESDA PTC-CDO. This collaboration would enable students to gain hands-on experience and exposure to industry-standard practices, thereby increasing their employability and competitiveness in the job market.

For their part, the Kaya Na Youth Organization pledges to support activities, advocacy campaigns, and community engagements aimed at promoting the importance of technical vocational education and empowering youth to pursue careers in skilled trades.

The collaboration will mark as a significant milestone in the effort to provide accessible and relevant technical vocational education to the youth of Northern Mindanao. By working together with industry partners and advocacy groups, more opportunities will be created for skills development and economic empowerment in the region.

The signing was witnessed by Dr. Johnny U. Lu, TCO Group Senior Vice President; Mr. Eric M. Uy, TCO Group Vice President of Operations, and Ms. Nice Danika Omictin, TCO-SEED School Supervisor, Jouie C. Tabilin and Engr. William M. Loreto, Senior TESD Specialists of PTC-Cagayan de Oro,

In her inspirational message to the graduates, TESDA Misor Provincial Director Marigold Cherie Garrido pointed out how lucky they were to be trained an graduated from the only Class A Certified Training Facility in Northern Mindanao ensuring they received the highest standards of training.

TESDA Misamis Oriental Provincial Director Marigold Cherie Garrido,

“In addition, the TESDA National Certificate that you receive will be life-changing for each one of you,” she stressed. “It opens opportunities for you, especially in countries like Australia, where skills standards are appreciated with higher salaries compared to academically trained graduates, even those who already finished their graduate studies.”

Aside from their Certificate of Completion, graduates also receive a Certificate of Participation in Mental Health, and Safety & Health. National Assessment passers will receive a Certificate of Competency.

TMP Scholarship Awardees

Toyota Cagayan de Oro Group Scholarships for Toyota Motor Philippines School of Technology with 5 years employment were awarded by Dr. Johnny U.  Lu, TCO Group Sr VP; TCO Group EVP & TCO-SEED School Director Nancy U. Ramirez and Toyota CDO Group VP for Operations Engr. Eric M. Uy to the following graduates:

Seigfred H. Olaer (ATS NC1 Batch 15), Dazel Lehi C. Pagaspas  (ATS NC1 Batch 13), Richjhon Nolly C. Jabla (ATS NC1 Batch 13), Gerard B. Barrun (ATS NC1 Batch 17), Junner L. Avendanio (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 16), Lynmar C. Fabrua (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 16), Richard B. Ponce (USAID Batch 3/ATS NC1 Batch 16).

Mine Heart Pasco (ATS NC 1 Batch/ATS NC2 Batch c), Alfred M. Ortega (USAID Batch 1/ATS NC1 Batch 18), Albhenor A. Ali (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 17), Jhon Simon B. Nacalaban (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 17), Jhon Lester A. Mojado (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 17), Kaizar Jon A. Martinez (USAID Batch 2/ATS NC1 Batch 14), Jericho C. Abainza (USAID Iligan Batch 1/ATS NC1 Batch 17), Mark Lester M. Maglinao (USAID Batch 3/ATS NC1 Batch 17), and Clyde Martin S. Mabao (ATS NC1 Batch 17).

Raquel Villamor (USAID Iligan Batch 1) and Ronie Famador (USAID Iligan Batch 1) were also awarded TMP Scholarships but were unable to join the commencement exercises.

Toyota Motor PH Full Scholars with Dr. Johnny U. Lu, Dr. Nancy U. Ramirez (center) and Ms. Nice Danika Omictin (leftmost, standing).

Also featured were personal testimonies of the following graduates on their TCO SEED training experiences: Seigfried Carl H. OlaerRichjohn Nolly C. JablaDazel Lehi C. Pagaspas, Anthoniel C. Branzuela (Batch 13), Alex O. Azarcon, Jr. (Batch 14) and Rheysha P. Lee (Batch 17).

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82nd Anniversary of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s arrival in Cagayan de Oro commemorated with turnover of repaired PT-41 scale model

The City Government of Cagayan de Oro, the Cagayan de Oro World War II & Veterans Studies Committee, Veterans Federation of the Philippines Region X, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, commemorated the 82nd Anniversary of USAFFE Commander General Douglas MacArthur’s arrival at Macabalan Port aboard PT-41 piloted by Lt. John Bulkeley, USN.

The famous Breakout from Corregidor is significant in history because it enabled the highest ranking American officer in Asia to escape capture by the Imperial Japanese Army and lead the counterattack from Australia to recapture the Philippines.

The highlight of this 82nd Anniversary was the official turnover of the repaired scale model of PT-41 (which was damaged after it was left out in the sun last year) by the donors led by the Sons and Daughters of World War II veterans and represented by former Mayor Constantino G. Jaraula and Engr. Elpidio M. Paras.

The PT-41 scale model will serve as a memento of the two significant historical events, General Douglas MacArthur’s breakout from Corregidor and the liberation of Cagayan de Oro.

Mayor Tinnex and Engr Elpie were two of the spark plugs who originally spearheaded the construction of this MacArthur Memorial Marker in 2008 in coordination with Cagayan de Oro City’s Sister City in Norfolk, Virginia and the MacArthur Memorial Museum thereat. It was inaugurated on March 13, 2008 with the late former President Fidel V. Ramos as guest of honor.

The historically accurate 1/24 scale model of PT-41 was crowd-funded by a group of private citizens and institutions led by the Philippine Veterans Bank and the heirs and families of the following patriots:

Col. Leonardo V. Hernando O-2462 (Ret.)

Col. Fidencio M. Laplap O-37530 (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Angeles L. Limena O-2141 (Ret)

Commander Albert Parker Ross 2015690 (Ret) USN

Major Blas Chaves Velez O-37540 (Res)

Maj. Rosauro P. Dongallo, Sr., O-37833(Inact)

Capt. Andres D. Bacal O-37523 (Inact)

Capt. Ramon R. Buhay ASN Unk (Inact)

Capt. Luciano S. Firmacion ASN Unk (Inact)

1st Lt. Jose D. Docdocil O-37829(Inact)

2nd Lt. Baltazar A. Cabrera O-33265 (Inact)

2nd Lt. Rodolfo A. Moreno O-37659 (Inact)

Master Sgt. Mauricio E. Malabed 0-738461(Inact)

Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon 0-33105 (Inact)

Cpl. Jose G. Gorra 0-136215 (Inact) and,

Pvt. Emiliano Macanas A.0-179700 (Inact).

In memory of the valor and sacrifice of our guerrillas and soldiers this memento was dedicated and presented to the public for the first time in simple rites commemorating the 77th Anniversary of the Liberation of Cagayan de Oro during World War II held May 12, 2022 at the Activity Center of the Ayala Centrio Mall.

Artwork by Philip Molina Garcia.

“Cagayan de Misamis (Cagayan de Oro’s former name) was liberated from the Japanese by all Filipino guerrillas with some help from the American Air Force and US Navy after a four-day battle from May 9-12,” said Col Jose C. Paler (Ret), regional president of the Philippine Veterans Federation Region 10 in his message for the occasion.

He added that the stories of war veterans must be passed on to the next generation as these are stories worth telling.

Miniature & Scale Model Builder Desi Reyes (left) and Albert Labrador, our key partners for our PT-41 scale model build (middle in the background).

The scale model of the PT-41 has been installed in the airconditioned Visitors Lounge of the  MacArthur Memorial at Barangay Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City.

I Shall Return

MacArthur’s successful Breakout to Australia enabled him to reorganize the Allied Forces in the Pacific and eventually keep his promise to the Filipinos of “I Shall Return.”

Meantime, the unsurrendered USAFFE soldiers and guerrillas kept the enemy disrupted with timely raids on their garrisons and intelligence reports that enabled the sinking of enemy ships by Allied submarines which also supplied them with weapons and ammunition to continue the struggle for freedom.

Crowd Funders

The project organizers acknowledged with grateful thanks and appreciation the financial and logistics assistance of the following persons and entities who assisted in the successful conclusion of this 80th anniversary project commemorating the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur at Cagayan after his successful Breakout from Corregidor on May 11-13, 1942:

The Philippine Veterans Bank through First Vice President Miguel Angelo C. Villa-Real; Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, 2nd Congressional District of Cagayan de Oro City; Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, UC-1 Corporation; Cagayan de Oro World War II & Veterans Studies Committee Chairman Atty. Constantino G. Jaraula; Philippines World War II Memorial Foundation through Vice President for Research and Education Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo; Promote Normin Foundation Inc. through Mr. Ruben A. Vegafria, the Philippine Ports Authority Port Management Office Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro through Port Manager Engr. Isidro V. Butaslac, Jr., Barangay 21 Chair Gilda O. Go, the Acuña family with former Norfolk Sister City Association- Cagayan de Oro Committee Chair Chief Hospital Corpsman Harry Acuña, US Navy (Ret), Senior Chief Machinist Mate Angelo Acuña, Jr., US  Navy (Ret), and Mr. Angelo Acuña, Sr.

The kin of World War II veterans who help crowd-fund the PT-41 scale model pose for a memento during the first ever commemoration of Cagayan de Oro Liberation held May 12, 2022 at the Activity Center of Centrio Mall. (photo by Cai Panlilio)

And not the least, the heirs and relatives of the veterans honored with this 80th anniversary memento who helped crowd-fund the completion of the scale model and its amenities: Mrs. Alice Limena Lacson and Family, Dolly and Raul Ilogon and Family, Leonardo  Jr., Eduardo and Adrian Fidel Hernando and Family;  Fr Antonio Moreno, SJ; Dr Ramon Moreno and Family; Gerlou, Carlo Magno, Larry and Rosie Docdocil and Family; Joy & Gil Blas Velez & Family; Lito, Olet & Bobby Cabrera and Family; Brig. Gen. Johnny Macanas & Family; Annie Gorra Rago and Family; William, Faye Bacal & Family; Rosauro Dongallo, Jr. & Family; Penny Dharamdas, Debra Fortich, Rowena and Mila Laplap; Dorothy Jean Buhay Pabayo & family, and Franciso B. Sarraga & Family.

This project was initiated and sustained by the  Volunteer Project Committee with  Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, Congressman Rufus  B. RodriguezMr. Miguel Angelo C. Villareal, Miniature and Scale model builder Desi R. Reyes, Photographer, Modeler and Reenactor Albert Labrador, Mr. Albert Parker Ross II (who provided the drawings and advised Mr. Reyes during the entirety of the PT-41 build);, Graphic Artist and Designer Christopher Gomez, Donna C. Ocampo, Artist Nicolas Aca, Jr., and Asst. Prof. Philip Molina Garcia of the University of Utah Asia Campus, Inchon, South Korea, Prof. Ricardo T. Jose, Department of History, University of the Philippines-Diliman, the Philippines foremost scholar on the Second World War and the Asia Pacific, specializing in military and diplomatic history, with focus on the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, without whom this project would not have been made possible.

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Following is the full text of Mayor Rolando “Klarex” Uy’s 82nd Anniversary message as read by City Administrator Atty. Roy Hilario Raagas on March 13, 2024

“As we mark today the 82nd Commemoration of the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur in Cagayan de Oro City on March 13, 1942, en route to Australia, it is with great reverence and gratitude that we remember this pivotal moment in our city’s history.

Niining tungura, atong sublion pagpadangat ang atong dakong pasalamat ngadto sa mga bayaning kalalakin-an ug kababayin-an sa Pilipinhon nga mibarog ug nakigbisog ug nakigtambayayong uban sa Armadong Kusog sa Tinipong Bansa sa America, nga gipangulohan ni General MacArthur, alang sa kagawasan sa atong pinalanggang nasud nga Pilipinas, lakip na ang atong gihigugmang Dakbayan sa Cagayan de Oro, gikan sa pagkagapos sa mga puwersa sa Imperyo Hapon niadtong Ika-duhang Gubat sa Kalibutan.

Their courage, sacrifices, and unwavering patriotism during the dark days of the Second World War continue to inspire us.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our war veterans, the Philippine guerrilla forces, and their descendants, some whom are here today with us, who have kept alive the memory of their selfless actions.

Let us never forget the lessons of history and the price of freedom. As we honor the memory of those who fought valiantly for our freedom, let us also commit ourselves to preserving the peace and unity they so dearly fought for.

Niining labing mahinungdanong okasyon, akong ipadangat ang akong kinasingkasing nga pagsaludo ug matinud-anong pagdayeg sa tanang mga sumusunod sa atong mga bayani sa Ikaduhang Gubat sa Kalibutan nga mga kaliwat natong Pilipinhon.

Ang pagkamabinantayon, pakigbisog ug mga sakripisyo sa atong mga katigulangan nahiusa ug nahimong tipik sa kasaysayan sa atong nasud ug dakbayan, ug aduna kitay walay katapusan ug kinutubang utang kabubot-on ngadto kanila.

May their legacy of courage, resilience, and love for our country continue to guide and inspire us as we build a better future for the generations to come.

Mabuhi ang Cagayan de Oro! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!”

Liceo Music Conservatory Profs serenade First Couple in Germany

Two of the Liceo de Cagayan University Conservatory of Music, Theatre & Dance Expat Professors recently joined other prominent Filipino entertainers in serenading President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his wife Liza during a meet-and-greet with the Filipino expat community in Berlin, Germany.

The March 12, 2024 Filipino Community Gathering was held late in the afternoon at the Grand Ball Room of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel under the direction of Presidential Communications Office Director Cris Villonco with the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Berlin headed by Her Excellency Ambassador Susan Barreiro Natividad, who earlier escorted the First Couple in honoring the legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal with  a visit to the Rizal Marker in Jaegerstrasse, Berlin.

Prof. Cipriano de Guzman, Jr., also known as the Filipino Baritone, and Prof. Thomas Schüle, joined Emanuel John Villarin, a violinist studying in Hans Eisler Musikhochsule, and Nurse-Singers based in Germany, Lipson Padillo and Jacqui Javellana in entertaining the first couple.

De Guzman teaches voice and theater at the Liceo Music Conservatory while Schüle is professor of Music Management and Musicology.

Before the arrival of the President and his delegation, the audience was entertained by various Filipino artists, including a folkloric dance group from Hamburg, a violinist from Berlin and local pop singers. Arnel Ignacio, a well known TV personality who has since been appointed as head of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), performed two songs and danced with Thomas’ wife Alicia!

“I sang Saan Ka Man Naroroon dedicated to all OFWs, change the line in the end before I hit the high notes “Asahan mo sa habang panahon, PILIPINO ka rin , saan ka man naroroon” and Dahil Sa Iyo by Mike Velarde Jr., which is associated with the Former First Lady and mother of the President, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos,” Maestro Zip detailed in an email to this writer.

Following the national anthem and welcome remarks from Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Irene Susan B.Natividad, the popular folk singer, Florante sang several songs including  his signature hits Ako’y Isang Pinoy and Handog.

“After his performance, I sang the song Balikbayan composed by National Artist for Music, Ernani Cuenco, followed by Umagang Kay Ganda with Emanuel John Villarin, Lipson Padillo and Jacqui Javellana,” de Guzman said.

After that, DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo introduced the President, who then delivered his speech.

The President related the steps made by his administration, including his visit to Central Europe, to see to the welfare and well-being of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and explore further measures aimed at further improving their quality of life and informing them of opportunities back home.

Prof Zip de Guzman in a memento pic with Pres. Bongbong Marcos & First Lady Liza Marcos in Berlin, Germany.

“During the First Couple’s interaction with the expat Filipino community in Berlin, the President asked where I trained or studied because he was fascinated. I invited Prof Thomas and his wife Alicia, whom I introduced as my manager to Ms. Villonco of the PCO,” de Guzman recalled.

Ms Cris Villonco of the Presidential Communications Office (center) with Prof. Thomasa & Mrs. Alicia Schüle.

“Since I was introduced to her as Sir Zip’s manager, my involvement was limited to supporting him and the arrangements for his performances, which I was able to discuss with Ms. Villonco,” Schüle related.

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