MAY is a SPRING MONTH in the NORTHERN HALF of the world, and a FALL MONTH in the SOUTHERN HALF. The month gets its name from the Latin word “MAIUS” and/or named after MAIA, the “Goddess of Growth.” Emerald is the birthstone; birth flower is the lily of the valley. It is the fifth month in the Gregorian calendar and has 31 days. May Day is a spring festival that is celebrated on May 1st each year .(https://www.timeanddate.com>).
A plethora of holidays, celebrations, and observances done worldwide make this month special. This include Arthritis Awareness Month, Better Sleep Month, Labor Day, Mental Health Awareness Month, Mother’s Day, National Technology Day, National Walking Month, and Women’s Health Care Month.
This month is very special in the Happy Island due to the staging of the 7th Abaca Festival on May 22-27. Historically, the Abaca Festival started in 2016 following the declaration of Catanduanes as the Abaca Capital of the Philippines by virtue of Republic Act No. 11700. As such, it serves as homage to the hardworking abacaleros/parahag-ots.
The annual celebration aims to showcase the socio-economic and cultural underpinnings of the abaca industry—in terms of business acumen, creativity, industry, plight, resilience, and sacrifices of the family and all stakeholders—which are vital components in describing the many facets of the Catandunganon identity.
INQUIRER. NET, Michael B. Jaucian wrote: “The provincial government has formally opened the 7th Abaca Festival with the theme “Talubo Abaca, Sulong Islang Maogma” (Flourish Abaca, Thrive Happy Island) on Monday, May 22.”
“Gov. Joseph C. Cua along with other provincial officials formally opened the 7th Abaca Festival on May 22 with a Thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It was[U1] immediately followed by a parade that drew participants from 11 municipalities from Imelda Boulevard to the Capitol grounds,” Jaucian added.
The festival also featured an agri trade fair for souvenirs and an abaca lakbay and travel expo to raise awareness about the abaca industry. “This is to honor abaca farmers and stakeholders. For generations, the abaca has been a stronghold of Catanduanes, “ Cua said. He said that with the declaration of Catanduanes as the abaca capital of the Philippines on April 25, 2022, the provincial government would give its full support to agencies supporting the abaca industry.
The Inquirer.Net reporter also interviewed Provincial Supervising Tourism Officer, Ms. Carmel B. Garcia, who said that the staging of the festival would “contribute a lot to the local economy as several activities like abaca stripping demonstrations, street dancing, and a float parade competition will draw tourists. We are now back on track, and we are expecting tourists to come every now and then to explore the happy island of Catanduanes,” Garcia added.
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The premier green research University had its major participation in the just concluded 7th Abaca
Festival, the other week. No less than CatSU SUC President III Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza did this himself as he reaffirmed the university’s unwavering support for the abaca industry and the province’s abaca farmers.
Truly, he manifested that opportunity at the opening program of the Abaca-nobasyon: A Science and Technology and Innovation Conference held at the Virac Sports Complex on May 24, 2023, when he announced that the CatSU Abaca Technology Innovation Center (ATIC) is collaborating closely with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST ) to establish a P30-million research facility. The facility aims to expand the applications of abaca and address issues related to abaca diseases. Dr. Abeliza DG. Evangelista is the incumbent director of ATIC.
Speaking in mixed vernaculars, the visionary-working president said: “Naaugma kita ngunyan dahil ang DOST mismo nagsabi, they will put in around 30 million research sa abaca sa Catanduane. Dakulang tabang iyan dahiil an gang research, mapapahiling talaga kung ano man an puwedeng maging maging alternative na gamit kan abaca.”
During a subsequent press conference, DOST Regional Director bared that the Abaca Diagnostic Biotech Laboratory project will primarily focus on studying the sources of abaca diseases in the province and develop tailored treatments for abaca in Catanduanes. Engr. Marie Grace T. Molina, DOST Provincial S & T Director added that the project has already received endorsement from the National Economic Development (NEDA) and is awaiting budget approval.
In that confab, Dr. Azanza also highlighted CatSU’s focus in conducting various research projects on innovative uses of abaca, including the utilization of abaca waste materials as painting canvasses. These canvasses were prominently featured in the current CAMOT sa CatSU: Obra sa Abaca Exhibit, where local artists were able to sell their artworks at significantly higher prices.
Reverting back to mixed vernaculars, the CatSU tophoncho added: “Ang mga paintings from waste materials ng abaca na nababakal sa P5-200, pag ginibo ‘ta sa abaca canvas, ang mga local artists nakapabakal ng P5,000-P35,000 worth of painting. The University also showcased in that event the Drying Technology developed by CatSU’s Research and Development Services. This patented Technology helps maintain the quality of abaca fibers, particularly during rainy seasons.
Brimming with utmost pride and contentment, President Azanza acknowledged the inclusion of 13 CatSU faculty members in the list of world scientists. As expected, he challenged them to utilize their knowledge and talents to contribute to the improvement and sustainability of the abaca industry.
Not only that. Cognizant of the challenges faced by the Abacaleros (acaca farmers), Dr. Azanza urged the government and stakeholders to augment their support for the paragots, who remain the most disadvantaged group in the province.
Again, in the vernacular, Dr. Azanza exhorted: “Ang dapat sentro sa satong pag-urulay, (ay) pano’o ta daw maipapadama ang pag-uswag sa satuyang parahagot (abacalero.”
In his concluding statements, Dr. Azanza reiterated, among other things, the following:
- CatSU’s commitment to the development, sustainability, and upliftment of the abaca industry and Abacaleros in Catanduanes.
- Emphasized the importance of collaboration with government agencies and stakeholders to achieve progress and prosperity for the province’s abaca farmers.( Iyo ini ang commitment kan at sa lambing saro satuya…Padagos kitang makitabang, makisararo sa mga munispyo, sa probinsiya asin sa ahensya para mas marinas, mapakaray (asin) mapaunlad ang gamit kan abaca para mapaunlad an satong mga abacalero”).
. In an article titled “Ecozones In-Depth: Groundbreaking Ceremony for Catsu KIST Park and Agro-Industrial Ecozone ,“ dated May 25, 2023, the write-up runs , thus: “ Congratulations to Dr. Patrick Azanza and the Catanduanes State University (CatSU) for the groundbreaking ceremony today of its Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Technology (KIST) Park and Agro-Industrial Processing Zone in the Province of Catanduanes—the first for the ecozone models to be approved by PEZA in the Bicol Region. The guidelines for the establishment of KIST Park were jointly formulated by the Department of Scienze and Technology (DOST) and PEZA.
“Both milestone projects are ably assisted by Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, Cong. Eulogio R. Rodriguez, host LGUs of Virac and Panganiban, and other partner agencies that support the implementation of ecozone program at the regional/municipal levels. As these model ecozones conform to green, inclusive and sustainable development, CatSU is able to mobilize as well the cooperation of the farmers, NGOs and business chambers, scientists and researchers, and key players in the IT and agro-sector supply chains—thereby fostering synergies between academe and the industry,” the PEZA publication added.
“In just over a year, the dream of converting some idle lands of CatSU into a prime KIST and Agr-industrial Economic Zone is now a reality. A reality that will potentially change the future of the whole province of Catanduanes band benefit its 263,000 residents. I is worth mentioning that the CatSU KIST and Agr-Industrail Economic Zone will bring in a total of P1,550 Billion investments in the province. “it further stated.
“No doubt that the province of Catanduanes and CatSU have what it takes to attract investments into their desired world-class and environemt-friendly ecozones, Catanduanes happens to be the biggest contributor to the growth of the abaca industry among the abaca-producing regions. The Philippine supplies 87.5% of the world’s requirement for abaca fibers, making the country the abaca capital of the world,” it added. (BP Vol. 17, No. 36, May 29-June 5, 2023/Green Alert/Buddy V. Isorena/CatSU photo)