Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kadayawan from behind the scene

LIFE for the people behind the kadayawan festival is not all wrapped in glamour and profit as what people imagine. What is hidden from the public's view is that behind the fanfare are only a small group of dedicated people exerting efforts and experiencing frustrations that were just taken for granted.

According to former Kadayawan sa Davao Festival Inc. (KDFI) President Froilan G. Ampil in an interview, the City Government handled the previous kadayawan festivals prior to 1995.

Ampil said Mrs. Fe Ayala, proprietor of Eden Nature Park in Toril, Davao City once asked Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in jest why he won't give the festival management to them, the flower people.

Mayor Duterte did, and through an executive order, entrusted the management of the festival to KDFI on December 1995 mostly because he was not happy due to alleged "anomalies" (note quotation marks), which kept on occurring every year in the management of the festival.

Ayala invited Ampil to join the KDFI although he is not a flower planter to put system into the operations of the program and to look into the funds to be generated.

"KDFI handled the kadayawan festival for the first time in 1996. The following year we saw the festival really grow. We invited outsiders to join the festival. Participants from as far as Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat and Placer, Surigao joined the celebration," Ampil said.

Due to political considerations, Ampil withdrew from presidency in 1998 and stayed on as a member of the board.

Squabbles, which Ampil did not elaborate, existed within the group. Despite the squabbles, an election of officers pushed through in the year 1999 where Id Acaylar emerged as president while Mrs. Dolly Soriano was the chairperson.

Ampil took over the presidency of the foundation again for the year 2001-2002 with Acaylar as chairperson.

Ampil lamented the fact while the KDFI was given the task to handle the festivities through an Executive Order issued by mayor Duterte, they are not getting enough support.

"Siguro, our expectation is that we will be treated as their partner and therefore should be granted more (stressed) benefits than the usual event organizers. Parang lumalabas na private organizers kami," Ampil said.

"Some government agencies are looking at us as a private group. We are indeed a private group but under the mandate of the mayor," Ampil added.

"I said only SOME government agencies. Most are cooperating with us, but there are still some who can not see that what we are doing actually is for the city as mandated by the mayor," he added.

Ampil said it's also unfortunate that the private sectors who ultimately benefits from the festival are at times not cooperative, most especially in funds contribution.

He said they had to rely on Manila companies to provide funding for the festival.

"The money we receive for the budget is from national offices, like Smart, SM in Manila, and others. From Davao we only receive very small amounts like P500 - P1,000," Ampil lamented.

Among the hardships the foundation suffers is that during other celebrations like Araw ng Davao, business establishments in the city easily shell out huge amounts while KDFI is having a very hard time soliciting funds.

"Maybe because we do not request the mayor to sign our letters and it makes a great difference," Ampil said.

The foundation is not spared the usual deluge of allegations regarding money matters. Recently, they had been accused of not filing financial statements before the Securities and Exchange Commission plus a hundred and one other allegations, which, unfortunately they weren't even given a chance to present their side.

Ampil said the City Council even invited him to answer some questions on taxation concerning the income from the booth rentals at the Agro-trade fair at SM Park.

"Taxable daw yung booth rentals (The booth rentals are taxable). That is basically donation because whatever excess money we make out of that is spent also for the festival," Ampil said.

He added that they are following the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) law on foundations that they can only use 30% of their earnings for administrative expenses.

"Akala nila maraming pera ang foundation, 30 percent from earnings yan ha, not from the gross budget," Ampil clarified.

"Ang iniisip ng tao, yung P8 million na budget, may kurakot na naman. Eh, wala namang pera. Eight million is the budget and not the cash component," he added.

He explained that the P8-million budget for the kadayawan festival is not all in cash component. They do exchange deals with other companies to meet the budget. Some publishers gave them advertisement spaces, while some gave plane tickets, foods, and other deals.

The funds solicited for the kadayawan festival goes to pay for prizes for the different contests, as well as other expenses. At the Agro trade fair, an entrance fee of P2 for children and P4 for adults is collected but for students with ID, entrance is free.

The foundation has to pay for electricians and five security guards who are on a 24-hour duty at the trade fair. They also pay for their food, and if the Davao City Police Office and the traffic division will add more forces as requested, the foundation has to feed them. Ampil said they are also paying P60,000 for four toilets at the Agro-trade fair from August 10-24 (15 days).

"We have to pay for electricity, water, communications, and even the flags decorated at the trade fair, we spent at least P7,000 for that," Ampil said.

The foundation only collects an annual fee of P750 for each of the 160 members who are basically flower growers.

Not all members pay at same date so collection won't be in lump. Membership to the foundation is also open even to non-flower growers as long as one is from the original Davao province.

Ampil said they are not receiving any salary or incentives for their work. The officers generate fundings but they don't receive commissions on solicitations.

The sad truth, according to Ampil, is that there is only a small group of people working for the Kadayawan festival.

"That's the life behind Kadayawan. The festival is growing and whoever will take over must continue that," Ampil said.

Because the foundation can't rely on the foundation for political reasons, they started the home bio-system in 2001, developed and proposed by Mr. Jose Nobleza Jr, member of Kadayawan DFI.

The system basically deals on the "preparation of an indigenous micro-organism solution for enhancing the composting properties of biodegradable matters".

The foundation tied up with the public schools because of the solid waste management act prescribed to educate the students on waste management.

The home biosystem is anchored on the principle that each house or home should start a solid waste management, it's their responsibility as a family, because if family head (father or mother) will not accept solid waste management, then lets forget all about the garbage that we have.

Ampil said of the 15 schools that joined the contest, most if not all are earning because of the vegetables they are growing out of the home biosystem.

Ampil said the municipality of Davao del Sur had adapted the home biosystem as their official solid waste management program.

"We're slowly gaining grounds outside Davao City, the only thing we lack is actually private funding," he said.

On August 20, a congress of all practitioners of the homebio system will be held at the Matina Town Square from 8 am-5 pm where they will be talking about the practices, problems they encountered, and sharing of ideas about the program.

This week, with Chairperson and City Tourism Officer Id Acaylar and President Susan Durano at the helm, the people will once again witness the kadayawan festival, a celebration of life and thanksgiving, in all it's splendor.

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