A tiger mama of a governor | Inquirer Business

A tiger mama of a governor

THE PROVINCE of Davao Oriental is the oldest in the Davao region, even older than the city of Davao. It is fortunate to have for its governor Cora Nuñez Malanyaon, a good poster girl for she knows her province’s historical and natural riches well.

Like a fierce mother, she protects these riches, especially the mineral-rich forests, keeping them from abusers and marauders. At the same time, she is willing to share them given these conditions that follow the environmentalist’s credo: take only pictures, leave only footprints and kill only time.

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The national highway is “very defined and beautiful with mountain and sea on opposite sides,” she says. View decks and signs are going up, but development is being kept at a minimum to preserve the beauty she is so proud about.

“We want to keep it as natural as possible so we’re getting professional experts in developing the province as a destination for soft and extreme adventure. We complement this with the work of the local government units so everything is in sync. We’re promoting the province piece by piece, putting everything in place,” she says.

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Coves, inlets, caves, falls, trails, diving spots, Katil River (the cleanest in Mindanao), the rare pitcher plant, the Philippine eagle in its natural habitat, dolphins, dugongs, whale sharks – name the flora or fauna, Davao Oriental has it. Slowly, the ecotourism potential of the province is being unraveled.

She feels abashed that “more foreigners have written about our butterflies, even our rodents here. They compare our abundant biodiversity to that of Costa Rica.”

She and the LGUs are ensuring that from their level down to the habal-habal (tricycle) driver, they can all talk knowledgeably and confidently about where to go, where to stay, what to eat, what to do.

Malanyaon, whose handshake has the strength and sincerity of a proletarian leader but whose aesthetic taste is that of an aristocrat, dares to declare to the rest of her country and the world: “Come see what we have to offer.”

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TAGS: Environmental Issues, Local authorities, local officials, Natural resources
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