While most people cringe in fear upon watching news of conflicts in the South, three (3) officers of TUCSG were resolute about going to Iligan City, Lanao del Norte to keep their engagements with clients and would-be partners. Last August 26, 2008, a few days after a raging panic in the city emptied houses and most offices brought about by the news of impending attack by the Moro rebels, TUCS Group Manager Lauren Teena Velasquez, together with TACD Manager Abelardo Valdez and ETBD Officer-in-Charge Flordelisa Pereyra took a flight to Cagayan de Oro and proceeded to Iligan City the following day. Faced with real imagined danger, the 2-hour land trip was eased only by the calming beauty of the scenery and the occasional humor of the group.

First stop was the MSU-IIT, where a productive meeting with Chancellor Marcelo P. Salazar, Vice Chancellor Franco Teves, and Ms. Pat Cruz took place. The Chancellor was open to forging a MOA with TRC to formalize an agreement that will open possibilities for collaborative partnership through Joint Ventures, TBI implementation, and information sharing, among others.

Next stop was the City Agriculturist Office, where the team met with Ms. Marie Ann Belen, a Bio-N mixing plant operator. Ms. Belen reported that even as all equipment has been acquired, the peace and order situation in their plant site makes it impossible for them to operate. Accordingly, she has requested the Mayor for assistance in relocating the site. TRC, for its part, made commitment to provide support if necessary.

A lunch meeting with an EIMP II client, Mr. Ricky Mendoza of Summa Alta Terra, Inc. (SATI) was held. SATI project hoped to manufacture coco charcoal briquettes and generate electricity in the process. However, the project did not take off due to several reasons mostly related to the economic crunch of 1997. At present, a positive development is in the horizon, as it is working on the possible assistance from the World Bank which is interested in the carbon credits that the project could generate.

Last stop was a meeting with Rising Star Multi-Purpose Cooperative who is seeking assistance from TRC for its coco product projects. A proposal was handed over to the team for evaluation as to kind of help TRC can extend. The head of the cooperative, Kag. Leonilo A. Mejarada was apprised of other TRC products and services, including the availability of online access of information materials.

Before travelling back to Cagayan de Oro, the team took the opportunity to pass by the ancestral home of PGMA. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation. Still, the team made their way in, thanks to the tour guide who convinced the caretaker of the team’s good intentions.

The team tried to push their luck further when it tried to enter the gate leading to the view deck of the famous Maria Cristina Falls. The sentry, in full battle gear, pointed to an advisory written in bold letters and in color that tells the obvious – CLOSED. RED ALERT.

While on the way back to Cagayan, the statement of the Chancellor still reverberates. He said that even if the situation in the city is back to normal, it can’t be denied that they are still living in a precarious state. Even so, TRC will surely be back soon, hopefully with all gates open.

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