Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fruits of Hope links Sulu and Metro Manila

“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order - in short, of government.” -- attributed to Albert Einstein

“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” -- attributed to Baruch Spinoza

These quotes ring true especially for Senator Richard J. Gordon as he pursues multi-pronged and multi-faceted initiatives to bring development to Sulu, Basilan, and other parts of Mindanao that have been labeled as war zones. He aims to bring development, not as a reward, but as a vital pre-requisite to achieving peace in these provinces.

The Fruits of Hope project is just one example of how real daring and compassion can help transform life in an underdeveloped province. There is a greater degree of respect, understanding, and compassion at work in Sulu when its farmers and fishermen are given help in finding better prices for their produce instead of being given two plastic bags of canned goods and rice. Suddenly, they are victims no more and they re-discover the power to make real, positive changes in their lives.

So, if you have a craving for fruit and want to bring about peace in Sulu, Basilan, and other place in Mindanao, all you have to do is go to the nearest SM Supermarket or Shopwise and strongly insist on buying fruits sourced from the provinces mentioned above. You'll be doing your country and your health a lot of good.

If you want to know more about the Fruits of Hope, read on:

“Fruits of Hope” Links Sulu and Metro Manila

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon has fulfilled his promise to connect Sulu to the markets of Metro Manila.

Gordon arrived Monday morning on board a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane at the Sulu Airport with a delegation of representatives from SM Supermarket, Shopwise and Nescafe to pick up some 5,000 kilos of lanzones, mangosteen, durian and other assorted agricultural products from Sulu.

SM Supermarket, represented by its administration manager Rey Decillo, and Shopwise, represented by its Fresh Division assistant manager Antonio Quintin G. Valdez Jr., have agreed to buy and sell the initial batch of fruits from Sulu. Nescafe, represented by Agriservices Department AVP Joel Lumagbas, has signified its intent to look into sourcing its coffee beans from Sulu.

The shipment of fruits from Sulu is an undertaking through a joint project called "Fruits of Hope" – named as such because it embodies the hopes of varied groups and sectors for peace and prosperity in Mindanao and Sulu. It is a joint initiative of the Philippine National Red Cross, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Provincial Government of Sulu, the Asia America Initiative, the Philippine Air Force, Rustan's, SM Supermarket, Robinsons Corporation, Nestle, and Shopwise.

Gordon said that Fruits of Hope will initially tap the products of Sulu, Basilan and Cotabato. But eventually it will cover all areas of Mindanao that can benefit from direct links to the markets of Metro Manila.

The senator said the project will also connect the fruit producers of Sulu to palengkes and market vendors in the metropolis. The PNRC plans to put up a P1-million fund to bankroll the project as this will enable the country's hardworking vendors in Manila to help the equally hardworking fruit producers in Sulu.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan lauded Gordon and the Fruits of Hope project, calling on the people of Sulu to support the project. He said that because of the government's all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf Sulu was in danger of sinking to its lowest point once again. But they were fortunate to have found an ally in Senator Gordon, who visited the province and found that far from being a war zone, Sulu was quite productive and peaceful.

"With your help as well as the help of the military and the private sector, we believe that the people of Sulu can turn calamity into opportunity," Governor Tan told the senator.

Gordon, in response, said that it was the people of Sulu and their commitment to the ways of peace that would help turn the tide for their province.

"It is time we start believing in the people of Sulu because the time of Sulu has come," said Gordon. He pointed out that during his last visit to Sulu in mid-August, he saw that its hospital was being run very well and is staffed by volunteer nurses; teachers were teaching despite limitations and hardships, and that businesses, including six banks, continued to operate despite the adversities presented by Malacanang's declaration of an all-out offensive.

Sulu has a wide variety of products and assets. Its fruits are among the best in Mindanao. Its rich waters yield some of the best-tasting and biggest lobsters and other marine products in the country. It has white-sand beaches that can rival Boracay's.

Gordon said if Fruits of Hope can open people's eyes to Sulu's enormous potential for growth in terms of agriculture and tourism, the hopes of many for peace and prosperity in the province will be fulfilled.

"If we are serious about bringing development to Sulu, we must begin right here and right now,” he stressed. “We should not wait for the military offensive to be over before we start delivering economic development to the people of Sulu. Development is the key to peace, and to reap peace, we must invest in peace and this means investing in the development of Sulu." #

No comments: