Mega port wonder in Davao City

FROM THE STANDS - The Philippine Star

Davao City is now in the world’s consciousness with the election to the Philippine presidency of  its  former  mayor, Rodrigo Duterte.  

There is yet another reason for Davao’s  becoming a stellar attraction. In the next three years, a  200-hectare harbor  project will   transform the city into “the hottest business-entertainment-residential world-class port city.”

Over a private dinner with a small group of media persons, the project’s architect, Nathaniel “Nikki” Romero, a son of the famous businessman Rhegis Romero II, showed  us an impressive master plan of the P38-billion Davao Coastline and Port Development project that will turn the coastline of the city from Agdao and Poblacion districts to Barangay Bucana into “a well planned, decent and self-contained community.”

The “new city,” which will rise up across a channel from redeveloped residential barangays, is envisioned as a “contiguous world-class port city” that will be a “state-of-the-art center of bustling business-cum-industrial activities, and host to a central business district with BPO establishments, banks, a convention center and malls.”

The project, a joint venture of  Mega Harbour Port and Development Inc. and the city, was signed by  the developer and Mr. Duterte on June 29, the day before he took his oath of office as president.

Under the plan, Mega Harbour will begin with the reclamation of four islands, with the first to be developed as a modern port that “will service all kinds of vessels” with a berthing length of about 2.5 kilometers, which will make it the longest in the Davao Region. The second island will be 39.24 hectares devoted to  the central business district and shopping center. The third will be 59.47 hectares for tourist centers and residential resorts; and the fourth, at 40.89 hectares, for township development.

Unlike other reclamation projects, Mega Harbour will not transport informal resettlers (estimated to be around 3,500 families, 40 percent of them Muslims) to another area. But, said Nikki, a housing project will be built for them in their original lots, complete with amenities as water and electrical supplies and  good roads. An important thing is that they will continue to pursue their traditional livelihood, fishing, as well as given employment opportunities in Mega Harbour’s  construction sites. Nikki said the project is “a bold venture for urban renewal and poverty alleviation.”

Nikki said the project developers are  guided by the principle of “Green Urbanism,” characterized by “the natural and cultural footprint of Davao where care for the environment and ecological balance shall be a main consideration.” Hence, the project makes use of greenery to line the main thoroughfares, the clearing of obstructions along these same passageways, and the rationalization of zoning policies.

As the project materials proclaim, “the transformation will not only be physical – it shall uplift and improve the socio-economic standing (of residents) by way of promoting their entrepreneurial activities and providing employment opportunities.”

The joint venture agreement (JVA) between the developer and the city government of Davao for the reclamation project  was signed  on June 21, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier in the city.

The project was approved by the City Council last April 12. Under the JVA, the project will be at no cost to the city government. In fact five hectares will be given to the city for whatever purpose it decides to embark on.

We look forward to visiting the “new city” – and buying a crate of delicious suha.

*      *      *

Former Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and member of the PRC board of governors Mario Nery died on July 12, at the age of 83.

At  the wake at Mt. Carmel church in New Manila, PRC chair  Richard Gordon described Nery as “a good personal friend. I called  him Yoda because he was a man of vision who initiated a lot of good things for the Philippine Red Cross during his term as chairman.”

Nery’s dedication and unwavering support to the PRC earned him several awards from the organization including the Diploma of Service award, Aurora Aragon Quezon Medal, Testimonial Plaque, Silver Humanitarian Service Cross, and the Gold Humanitarian Service Cross on April 14, 2016, during the 31st Biennial National Convention.

A highlight of his career in the Red Cross was when he was elected as vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and governing board member of the IFRC from 1998-2001. He was the first and only Filipino elected to the vice presidency of the IFRC.

He has received the highest award, called the Service Above Self Award, given by Rotary International’s board of Rotarians in recognition of his efforts towards uplifting the lives of the poor. He served as president of the Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro City in 1974 and New Manila Heights in 1988. He  became district governor in 1993 and chairman of the Philippine College of Rotary Governors, an association of all past and present Rotary governors, in 1994.

Nery retired as senior vice president of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) after 39 years of service, only to be hired again as SMC management consultant for five more years.

He completed graduate studies and management courses in local and foreign management schools including Ateneo de Manila, Asian Institute of Management, International Management Institute in Switzerland, and the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania.

He  is survived by his wife Isidra Salcedo Nery and their six children and 16 grandchildren.

*      *      *

In my own family, another member has passed away. Rosario “Cherry” Suarez Escasa went quietly last week in Chicago. She was a fun-loving, generous sister-in-law of mine; the last time we saw each other was around eight years ago, and she made my brief stay with her memorable, taking me around town and shopping and dining at nice places.

She is survived by her sisters Lina Hatten and Cecilia Crisologo and children Roumel, Astrud, Julie Ann and Sue Ann.

Cherry joined members of her family who are already in the Great Beyond—her father Mauricio Suarez Sr.,  mother Olive,  brothers Mauricio Jr. and Boy, and sister Lourdes “Lulu” Loysaga. Lulu, who passed away last year, is survived by her children Marissa, Miriam, Millie and Louie.

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