Davao del Norte’s city joins billionaires’ club

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DAVAO CITY—Another emerging city in the region, Panabo City, joined the elite circle of emerging billionaire cities in the country, thanks largely to its sprawling banana plantations cultivated for export and its bustling port for shipping them.

Panabo City, 32 kilometers northeast of here, broke through the P1-billion mark in earnings last year, according to Mayor James G. Gamao in his recent state of the city address, citing 2018 figures.

Michael Angelo Resueno, Panabo City information officer, said the mayor disclosed the amount at P1.05 billion. The figure is the first billion the city earned. In 2017 the figure grazed the billion mark when the city earned nearly P900 million.

Resueno said the bulk of the earnings came from the sprawling banana plantations, including the country’s largest, the Floirendo-owned Tagum Development Co. City Tourism Officer Cher Magallon-Bastida said almost half of the city’s entire area of 27,200 hectares is planted with the Cavendish banana. The city has about 10,000 hectares of banana farms and plantations.

Panabo City’s achievement would be a welcome inspiration to its 18th “Araw ng Panabo” commemoration later this month, despite being rated a third-class municipality.

Business attraction

THE attractiveness of the city may have also started to pull important investment strings, especially from mainland China.

A recent delegation of Chinese businessmen told city officials that they were keen on expanding supply contracting ventures with shopping malls and other retail stores in the Davao region.

The businessmen told city government officials operating in Panabo City that would cut the cost of purchasing supplies on the part of client stores by eliminating the list of middlemen.

Officials said the delegates would also seek supply contracts with the other malls in Tagum City, as well as in Davao del Norte and Davao City.

Resueno said the businessmen were interested to locate inside the city’s export procession zone in Barangay San Pedro, adjacent to the industrial park being developed by the Anflocor Group in Barangay San Vicente. The business proposal was among the recent big-ticket investments planned in the city.

Bastida said these investments include the University of the Philippines graduate school for agriculture and environment, the private-public partnership project for a new public market, and the park development of the national government with Panabo City as the recipient.

A separate group of Chinese businessmen accompanied by the Chinese consulate general has also offered the Panabo City team a visit to China in time for a trade exposition.

Tourism sites

Bastida said the city has allotted funds to improve its tourism sites and contribute to maintaining or further increasing its P1-billion revenue record on the second year.

She added the city plans to showcase its success in mangrove replanting in coastal areas up to the next town of Carmen, also in Davao del Norte. There is also an 80-hectare marine-culture park.

Bastida said there would be a boardwalk around the mangrove forest and the marine culture park and extending further to allow visitors a view of the Panabo port and the export-processing zone.

From the mangrove forest with a view deck, a kayaking sports activity would be develop.

Upland in Barangay Mabunaw, the city has begun to develop an ecological park, carving out 72 ladder steps with pine trees alongside the trail.

Panabo City has been receiving 3,000 to 5,000 visitors daily. Bastida said the city would hope to gather as many as 10,000 visitors during the Araw ng Panabo celebration on March 22 to 31.