As I write this column, it is a beautiful Sunday morning here in Cebu. My colleagues and I attended the First National Business and Management Conference. Co-hosted by the University of San Carlos (USC) and De La Salle University, this event provided a venue for faculty from all over the country to present their research. Over 42 faculty members, MBA and DBA students presented their ongoing research projects. We also had an opportunity to enhance our skills and be exposed to the current trends in sustainable business and management practices.
This trip, four years since my last, allowed me a glimpse of Cebu’s astounding developments. From the vibrant Terrace extension of the Ayala Mall, where Zumba classes were being held in one of Cebu’s few patches of greenery, to the gleaming glass buildings of the business process outsourcing (BPO) offices and hotels and well-equipped classrooms at USC, the changes truly impressed me. All these developments attest to the economic boom of the province. Even the beloved traditional pasalubong, the dried mangoes, have leveled up. The Belgian chocolate-dipped dried mango strip is currently fueling my creative juices!
But what truly impressed me as an academic was the state of research and innovation happening in Cebu. USC’s researchers were challenged to find new uses for mango pits and skin that are discarded by mango processors. Instead of sending this still viable organic products straight to the compost pile or garbage dump, the researchers were able to turn them into mango flour! Commercial production of this new product will start in a few months. Developing another option to wheat-based flour will be a boon to the gluten-sensitive. Large-scale production may also be a boon to pan de sal and other bread bakers, who can use mango flour as a cheaper and more importantly, local source of flour.
However, while I can continue to wax poetic about Cebu’s growth and development, I cannot help but be disturbed by some of the social ills that continue to trouble this paradise. The April 18, 2013, issue of The Freeman reported that Department of Health officials have flagged the red alert because HIV cases have reached an epidemic level. While the presence of the BPO firms have generated over 95,000 jobs, there is still a greater number of underemployed and unemployed workers.
With political will and proper resource allocation, Cebu can surpass these problems. Because for growth to be truly sustainable, current and potential issues such as air and water quality, climate change, poverty and inclusive growth must be addressed. Only when every Filipino can have access to basic human rights such as food, work, housing and health care can we truly say that growth has been fairly shared.
A few years ago, Cebu launched its Make it, Cebu program to entice people to visit the province. Its catchy jingle still makes me hum, “Make it, make it, make it Cebu!” But I hope the dream is to someday change it to “Made it, Cebu!” as a model of sustainable and equitable development here in the Queen City of the South.
The author is the Graduate Program Coordinator of the Management and Organization Department, DLSU Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. She teaches Corporate Social Responsible and Governance and Lasallian Business Leadership. She can be contacted at email@example.com. The views expressed above are his own and does not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty and its administration.