Worms were not part of my agenda in going to Dumaguete. But it found its way into my schedule after City Mayor Agustin Perdices and Governor Emilio Macias III, each told me how they are using worms to create organic fertilizer. The process is fairly simple: Mix manure, organic products like leaves and a handful of worms in a big sack. The worms eat and excrete and in a few weeks, voila, you have organic fertilizer. The goal is to get more farmers to make their own organic fertilizer instead of buying commercial fertilizers which are much more expensive and have chemical ingredients.
My staff actually had been there for the last three days conducting seminars on breast feeding and women empowerment.
I arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Aren’t rainy Saturday afternoons just perfect for going to sleep? But this was a working Saturday for me and I was scheduled to meet the governor and get a tour of the provincial hospital.
The governor, it turns out is a PGH trained surgeon, a passionate healthcare advocate who shared a lot of his ideas about devolved health care, its problems and possible solutions. It was great to meet him and the medical staff of the hospital. I hope to use their experiences in reviewing our health care policies.
From health care Negros Oriental style, I got a taste of women power, Siliman University style. I met their student council, headed by SC President Stacy Danika Sia Alcantara. Wow! What an energetic talented group of young women, to say the least. They proudly told me that their school is very gender sensitive and has always had a strong women studies department, that the young men who enter the University are soon enough indoctrinated into a lifestyle that is gender equal in all aspects. More power girls. I promised to write a future entry on women empowerment and the girls promised to contribute?
Later that evening, I met with Green Alert Negros, who expressed their concern about the plans to cut thousand of trees and develop part of Mt Kanlaon as a source of geothermal energy. I actually climed Mt Kanlaon years ago and was quite familiar with the affected area. But more importantly Mt. Kanlaon is a natural park protected by law, rich in biodiversity and is home to many endemic species.
Next day, I woke up to a dark morning, with tree branches swaying from the strong winds.. It looked like rain was inevitable, but in fact, shortly after 5 am, the sky started to lighten up.. Ani and I ran straight from our hotel to the starting line where we joined thousands of runners who like us, got up at dawn for the fun of running in one of the 3 distances of the Milo Maratthon series –3k, 5k and 21k.
I joined the 21k run which took us along Rizal Boulevard, right by the Tanon Strait which was a beautiful site. Then we turned into a side road and went thru very pleasant countryside, where the locals lined the streets to watch us go by.
The exciting part of every run for me is seeing the strong women runners race. We had a chance to chat after the awarding ceremonies. They come from all backgrounds, mothers, students, teens and women in their 40s, all fast runners who outrun most men!
In just about 24 hours from the time I got to Dumaguete, I was homebound. I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the beautiful city, but thanks to the local government officials, the locals, my staff and everyone who gave us some of their valuable time, we had a productive and fulfilling trip.