Category Archives: Rural

Country Living

Greenfields of Prosperity


Dampa Davao.solo

Welcome to Davao! Life here would be alluring to any visitor.[Note: All the pics provided exclusively belong to the author.I came to Davao not just to see the place but on official business trip straight from the sun-baked deserts of Oman where I am based. Thus, I chanced upon this opportunity to explore this majestic region that I last visited about 3 decades ago or so. Davao City is among the largest cities in the world with a sprawling land area of 244,000 hectares.  It is the premier city and hub of the south side of the Philippines known for its bustling economic activities, diverse population, urban build-up and modern amenities.  It is considered as the most important economy in the island and the third most important urban center in the Philippines.  The city is known to many as a destination offering a unique combination of various eco adventures in the midst of a modern, urban landscape characterized by a flourishing business and tourism environment.

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Pryce Tower in Bajadia, Davao City

Davao is also seen and considered as a retirement haven for people seeking a slower pace of life, due to its relaxed atmosphere, low cost of living, and numerous recreational options.I have learned that  the city has a very low crime rate in the country.Even with a population of over 1.3 million and an urban density estimated  at 2,400  persons per square kilometer, Davao City’s crime rate still remains among the lowest in the country.  This has earned  for Davao City the distinction  as the Most Peaceful City in the East and Southeast Asia for a number  of years already.

Davao's San Pedro Square
The night stroll would make anyone virtually safe from harm due to the City’s strict implementation of peace and order.

Davao City is said to be one favorite place of a growing global community of expats of various nationalities  aside from other tribes from within the country.

GREENFIELDS OF PROSPERITY.

As one of my primary targets, the fruit export business in Davao City sit well with our planned business activity to market cavendish banana in the Middle East in partnership with my Omani sponsor. The abundance of fruits in Davao is truly a wonder to any would be visitor and businessman as there are a lot of suppliers and growers and lots of fruit stalls as well. The Bankerohan Fruit Market is crowded with buyers on a daily basis.So, if you happen to go to Davao, there are so many fruits to choose from –  you’ll enjoy the freshest and highest quality agricultural produce. It is up for grabs both for the locals and for domestic and foreign markets. It exports large volumes of banana, pineapple, orchids, and tuna.Its pomelo, durian, and mangosteen are sought-after by many, yet these remain affordable and accessible to the locals on a daily basis.Davao is the biggest supplier of Banana in the Middle East Market based on the latest stats.

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Mt. Apo
Mt. Apo was one of the places I enjoyed seeing from a far distance at Digos City Davao Del Sur and Bansalan…

Davao City is blessed with abundant fresh drinking water from both ground and surface sources. Mount Apo serves as there charge  point and the areas at the foot of the mountain contain  large reservoirs, the biggest of which is the Calinan, Toril and Talomo Triangle.

One can have a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

Live a wholesome and healthy lifestyle in Davao City! The city pioneered the regulation of smoking in public places in the Philippines that  gave birth to the National Anti-Smoking Law. Davao City has been a recipient of the prestigious Red Orchid Award of the Department of Health in 2010 and 2011 during the World No Tobacco Day. It has tough policies against dangerous drugs, violence against women and children (including prostitution and human trafficking), and environmental pollution. It has addressed the concern over aerial spraying in large plantations and banned the use of firecrackers and similar pyrotechnics. It leads in the conservation of endangered species such as the country’s national bird, the Philippine Eagle, as well as the protection of the city’s watershed, coastal areas, rivers and gulf. Davao City boasts of having one of the most progressive and comprehensive reproductive health program in the world.

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The streets are covered with streamers on the month I was in Davao to celebrate the Kadayawan Festival…

Davao City is the only Asian city that has an integrated emergency response system similar to that of the United States and Canada, the difference being that in Davao City , the service is absolutely for free and totally subsidized by the local government. Central 911 responds to all kinds of emergencies : medical, fire, police assistance, natural or man-made disaster. The Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council has been cited as the best prepared disaster coordinating council in the country.A favorite destination for study tours, Davao City is regarded as a model for other cities in the country.

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We are right at the mountain peak stopover bordering Gensan and Davao..

 A major Destination in the East Asian Region.

Davao City has been  cited in Asia for its high livability index, where residents can easily switch between fast-paced business transactions and soothing relaxation  options. It is considered a major tourist destination in the East Asian region with an increasing  number  of international visitors since the 1990s.

The designation of the Tagurano-Catigan-Eden Tourism Development Zone as the Mountain Resort and Agro-Tourism Capital of Southern Mindanao illustrates determined efforts leading to the desirable transformation  of the city as the Summer Capital of the Philippine  South. Additionally,  the presence of world-class  beach  resorts both in the city and on nearby Samal Island (30 minutes away by boat ride) has allowed  Davao to offer a complete tourism package for all visitors.

Davao City is the hub of commerce and industry in the Southern Mindanao region.

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Author enjoys a ride in a Padjak to move around town.

Harvests are bountiful in Davao City. The cultivation  and propagation of natural resources dominate the economic landscape of the region as the city is surrounded by many different plantations and stock farms supplying both local andexport markets. With the richness of agribusiness  opportunities in and aroundthe city, it’s no wonder  that Davao City is considered the Food Basket of the Philippines.

Dampa Davao
Author poses with the proud owner of Dampa Davao, a resto in downtown Davao so unique and classy…

Davao City is Business-Friendly.

Surveys and evaluations on the best places for business have always cited Davao as among the best performers. These include distinctions as being the Top 10 Asian Cities of the Future by the FDI magazine of The Financial Times, the Most Competitive Metro City in the Philippines with the Best Quality of Life by the Asian Institute of Management and a long list of numerous recognitions and distinctions as the city has received in the recent years. All these are proof of the continuous and decisive strides in making Davao City a home for many productive ventures and endeavors. Continue reading Greenfields of Prosperity

A walk in the woods…


How would life be without trees? The truth of the matter is that, we could not exist as we do if there were no trees. A mature,robust and leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. As people move to different places in any part of this world where trees abound, not many realize that the forest serves as a giant filter that cleans the air that we breath. I took an interest in documenting a spot I chanced upon as I explored the high hills and forested areas of (scallop-rich)Sorsogon, Philippines on my vacation. This is a century(plus) old acacia tree in Bucalbucalan  that I learned about from the locals.

Phil Tour.Bicol Region.Province of Sorsogon.Heritage Tree
Its more than 360 cm trunk takes 6 regularly built men to encompass its girth.
The people within the vicinity narrated how they are benefitting from its primary role of protecting them from typhoons that batter the Bicol region.
Acacia Tree.Sorsogon Province,Bicol Region
On dark moonless nights or during bad weather, fishermen coming out of the sea would look up to the acacia tree as a familiar beacon that would safely bring them home toward the shore.

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A generation plants a tree, another gets the shade- Chinese Proverb

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Fish Adds Life…


The title of this blog says it all..Yeah, Fish adds life.It really is if the numerous research studies holds true. We often wonder how much benefit we derive out of this cold-blooded mammals in terms of food value they can provide to fish-loving people. In one weekend that we have had the opportunity to take advantage of to go on holiday fishing, I was able to take some shots of the enjoyable time we spent hobnobbing with the local populace in a most frequented fishing village in this part of Oman.

The First catch of fish using plastic fishing reel
At the Kabourah Fishery Harbor in Oman: A much deserved relaxation with my family away from the city.
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Fishing at the Fishery Harbor (pictured in daytime) in Kaboura
Mackerel Fish
Salmon Fish

What is Omega 3 ? Simply it is that fatty acid that is derived from fish.It is encouraging to note that though its oily, which is harmful in unsaturated fats in animals, the good thing in fish is that, it is good news to eaters because it is a “good” fatty acid. Having come across one leading daily in Oman, The Times of Oman condensed from the Daily Express, it was noted that a new study has revealed that consuming sardines, salmon or mackerel can lower the risk of an early death by more than a quarter because they are loaded with omega-3. It was further

The Sail Fish
The Sail Fish or  Blue Marlin

indicated that having high amounts of omega-3 in the blood can slash the chances of a reduced lifespan by more than a third.Scientists have found that people with the largest amounts of the good fatty acids in their blood live on average 2.2 years longer that those with lower levels.Lead researcher Dr. Darfush Mozaffarian from the Harvard School of Public Health said “The findings suggest that the biggest bang-for-your buck is going from no intake to modest intake, or about two servings of fatty fish per week.” Scientists believe that the acids work to improve heart’s electrical activity and blood pressure.The body does not produce its own essential fatty acids and they must be obtained from the diet.Previous studies have found that fish rich in protein and fatty acids reduces the risk of death from heart disease.

Green Green Grass of Hope


Grasses

Boundless grasses over the plain Come and go with every season;Coolotai Grass Wildfire never quite consumes them — They are tall once more in the spring wind. Sweet they press on the old high- road And reach the crumbling city-gate…. O Prince of Friends, you are gone again…. I hear them sighing after you.
This poem writen by chinese poet Bai Juyi  of the Tang dynasty era was beautifully written to depict man’s continuous and unavoidable exposure to the sights of grass everywhere they go. This monocot plant that we sometimes treat as eyesores jot the roadways, canals, farmfields, slopes, the mountain sides,pathways,etc. then finally ends up being snubbed or taken for granted.
As a child growing up, it was part of our household chore to help mow down the lawn in our front and backyards or trim the overgrown weeds in some pathways beyond  the house.There are quite a number of  varieties of grasses which are found to have  useful purposes, i.e. for landscape design or well manicured football pitches but then some of the more ordinary varieties end up being cut down and thrown to the garbage or burned. But there ‘s one very useful purpose that can be derived from grasses–they benefit the other surviving creations that live alongside the humans…as food for livestock  who loves grazing and roaming the pastures for endless hours.
cattle_grazing_largeGrasses are nature’s selection of plants that can tolerate grazing.Grasses can be perennial, living for many seasons, or annual, which means they grow from a seed, flower and die, all in one growing season. Perennial grass plants are vital to the stability of a native pasture and considering their productivity is the most important factor in your grazing planning. After a grass is grazed it needs time to regrow its leaves using energy stored in its roots.
Coolatai grass is a long leaved summer active perennial grass that produces short rhizomes that form dense tussocks.
Coolatai grass or Hyparrhenia Hirta

Coolatai grass is a long leaved summer active perennial grass that produces short rhizomes that form dense tussocks.Being drought tolerant,it has the ability to rapidly respond to rain, producing new culms from the tussock base and flowering in a matter of weeks. It is well adapted to fire, with tussocks surviving hot burns. Coolatai grass will readily invade disturbed areas such as roadsides and pastures, forming monocultures and out-competing most other species.

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Coolatai grass will readily invade disturbed areas such as roadsides and pastures, forming monocultures and out-competing most other species.

It also has the ability to invade relatively pristine remnant native vegetation, making it a significant threat to the conservation of these areas. In one research in Australia, it has been observed that Coolatai grass invasion results in significant drecreases in native plant diversity and biomass. Coolatai grass presents a dilemma in that it is able to invade relatively undisturbed natural ecosystems, yet can be a resilient productive pasture species if managed correctly. Coolatai grass is also highly tolerant of most herbicides making control on a large scale difficult, particularly where the treatment cost will exceed the productive value of the land. On the other hand, studies have shown that with significant management inputs where Coolatai grass is kept short, it can be a highly productive pasture and meet the feed requirement of dry stock.Both these characteristics give the species the ability to quickly flower and set seed when environmental conditions are favourable.

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Cattles are known to graze the heads of Coolatai grass.

Research on the viability of annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) passing through cattle shows that around 12% of seed consumed remains viable. Therefore it would be reasonable to assume that some Coolatai grass seed will survive the digestive track of cattle. It is tolerant of most commonly used herbicides and suppression of growth is the most likely outcome.

Moving over to Oman,  been observing a lot of times trucks plying the roadways  with loads of cube-shaped green or beige colored objects.Then comes the wide open fields with water sprinklers  watering not trees nor flowers but of all living things … grasses.This are in fact weeds that are cared for by farmhands that finds its way to the market or livestock farms. At today’s going rate, one bundle of coolatai grass in the market will sell for 3.5 USD in Oman. I refer to a common variety of grass that are so very often fed to livestock…Coolatai grass or Hyparrhenia Hirta as its scientific name stands.They are known known to have originated from Africa but has found its way to many other parts of the world and will grow on a range of soils though, it is most active on light to medium textured soils and will grow and increase on heavy clay soils if not waterlogged.Of noteworthy is a study made in South Africa and the Middle East that indicate their propensity on growing very fast on slopes that face the sun.  It is cold tolerant and and can be seen growing from sea level to 1500 m altitude, however in South Africa Coolatai grass is found up to 2400 m above sea level.

They are ready to be trucked to their destination point.The grass has become an important agricultural commodity that is used to boost livestock productivity.
They are ready to be trucked to their destination point.The grass has become an important agricultural commodity that is used to boost livestock productivity.
Stacked Coolatai Grasses
Stacked Coolatai Grasses

Cattles,Goats & Camels : They have come a long way.Grass is good for them.

A look at vegetable-rich Batinah region


We kept coming back for the motorcycle and camel rides in Batinah from time to time not minding too much on the long stretches of green fields along the way. This time we did not miss the chance to visit them. Our kind and unassuming Omani host offered the entourage a refreshing visit in  his vegetable and goat farm. We  found out vegetables and fruits are planted and [harvested] in great quantities in this part of Oman so that makes them not really dependent on vegetables from major exporters. Oil-rich Oman seems intent on becoming vegetable-rich as well, though it pales in comparison to figures achieved by vegetable-growing countries in Asia or North America. I later discovered that a considerable chunk of food crops in Oman is cultivated on the coastal region of Batinah plain, which extends north-westwards from the north of Muscat region to the rim of the United Arab Emirates.To name some, they are tomatoes, pumpkins, mangoes, bananas, sweet potatoes, sweet corn and an assortment of select fruits, like dates which have greatly increased over the last few years.

This blog under the category of plants and wildlife documents 4   vegetable plantations that we have visited namely okra, stringbeans, eggplant and cabbage. These products find its way to almost all the supermarkets and retailers in Oman.

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Okra comes packed with glutathione, a protein molecule that is naturally produced in the body and  is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body guard against the harmful effects of germs and bacteria that cause cancers and other diseases. It helps to improve liver, heart and lung functions and boost the immune system.

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Okra farms and other farms planted to vegetables are a common sight in the Batinah coast of Oman.
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Okra eaters,according to history.

Okra has made a name in ancient times, with its beginnings in Egypt where it is cultivated before the time of Queen Cleopatra. Then it became popular  to many parts of the world during the Atlantic slave trade.  The shortage of coffee beans in WWII gave rise to okra seed’s prominence as a very good substitute.  This incident made the word “okra fever”. Since then, okra’s popularity never disappeared from local markets to convenience stores throughout the world and throughout the year.

The world’s most beautiful women in ancient times, Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China loved to eat okra according to historical accounts.The world’s most productive land of okra in a rural area in Kami, Kochi Prefecture , Japan, is known popularly for how the young and old all look very healthy. When asked about their secret in having good health in that area, they graciously answer “okra”.

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Okra is also reported to be beneficial to those suffering from diabetes as it helps to stabilize the blood sugar. Some people who claimed to have their diabetes cured or their condition greatly improved with the daily consumption of water that has been soaked with okra.

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The other side of weeds.

So you think you know what a weed is? Did you ever think “why” you have weeds?  Did you ever think about positive values and functions that weeds might provide? There are many wildlife uses for weeds, including hosting more insects than you see or can imagine.Many wild mammals feed on weeds.  There are more good insects than bad in gardens, many being predators of the bad, or serving as food for birds.  Small parasitic insects, also serving as biological controls for bad ones, feed on the nectar of many weed flowers.   Some weeds host the larvae of butterflies, such as the monarch larvae on milkweeds.  We all have seen bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies feeding on flower nectar of many weeds.  Especially important to these are the late season wildflowers, when not much else is in flower, such as goldenrod and aster.

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The Omani farm owner showed his  unrelenting appetite for a memorable pose with us.

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Farmworkers in almost all the veggie fields are tended to by Bangali laborers like this stringbean fields we visited. Green beans (string beans) have been, in recent studies shown to have impressive antioxidant capacity.Research comparing the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans to other foods in the pea and bean families has found green beans to come out on top.For one, it’s also a valuable source of silicon for bone health and healthy formation of connective tissues in the body.

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Cabbage contains enormous anti-ageing compounds like beta carotene and Vitamin C. These compounds repair the damaged cells of the skin and give healthy and shiny skin protecting against the ageing of the skin.

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Although iron is essential for many biological process in the body, excess accumulation of it is not beneficial and causes certain harmful effects in the body. Increased accumulation of iron causes rise in the production of free radicals in the body and is associated with high risk of heart disease and cancer.Therefore,studies have taught us that it is necessary to remove the excess iron to reduce the free radical production which can be done by nasunin, a phytonutrient present in eggplant.

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Prior to the discovery of oil in the 1960s, the agricultural sector was vital in the Omani economy.  The principal agricultural area is found along the Batinah coast, in the northeast between Muscat and Diba al-Hisn. Oman is famed for producing very high quality agricultural goods and the highest quality products are usually exported to the neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.To this day, agriculture remains to be one of Oman’s main non-oil exports.