South African Ambassador Visits Davao Oriental

FORGING RELATIONS: Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang (right) receives South African Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Martin Slabber (left) in a courtesy call on Wednesday at the Provincial Capitol.

DAVAO ORIENTAL – South African Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Martin Slabber says he is amazed by Davao Oriental’s beautiful natural landscapes and rich culture as he recently visited some of Davao Oriental’s exquisite destinations.

“In my opinion, Davao Oriental is the best-kept secret in the Philippines. We have only been here a few days. It has the most beautiful landscapes and the people are wonderful. It is something people here can really be proud of,” said Slabber in an interview.

The ambassador, who had series of engagements in Davao City, took the time to visit some places here to get familiar with and explore opportunities for collaboration with the Province of Davao Oriental. “I’ve always been looking for opportunities for collaboration between South Africa and the Philippines. You never know what you can come across when you visit a place,” he said.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang warmly received Slabber in a courtesy call on Wednesday at the Provincial Capitol. The Governor, who actively pursues investment opportunities for his province, welcomed the prospects of collaboration between South Africa and Davao Oriental.

Highlighting the similarities between South Africa and the Philippines, Slabber mentioned that the possible areas of collaboration of both countries could be in the area of tourism and management of World Heritage Sites.

Slabber said that this collaboration will involve “protecting biodiversity and natural resources and at the same time to make money out of it in terms of tourism but in a responsible manner. So you balance exposing your natural resources to people that will appreciate it but making sure that you will not harm these resources in the process”.

H.E. Martin Slabber and his wife visits the Mount Hamigutian Natural Science Museum at the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park. Accompanying them are Provincial Tourism Officer Miguel Trocio, Dr. Roy Ponce of DOSCST, Chief of Police of San Isidro PSI Bryan Salveron, and others from the Municipal Government of San Isidro.

Like Davao Oriental which has its world-famous Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Site, South Africa has also eight World Heritage Sites, in which two of them are mountain ranges with endemic flora and fauna.

“I mentioned to the Governor that this is something that we want to explore now. And we will now see how we will construct this collaboration. I will speak to some people in South Africa and maybe bring them here, perhaps towards the end of the year. I will bring some people here to have a technical discussion and hopefully it will evolve eventually in exchange of visits between Davao Oriental and South Africa and to make sure that both our counties would benefit on the experiences that we have. We can always learn from one another,” he said.

The ambassador and his wife receive a warm Mandaya welcome from the Municipal Government of Caraga headed by Mayor Alicia Mori and her staff — all wearing the traditional Mandaya garb. Also accompanying the delegation is LTC Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion.

Aside from having similarities in the area of biodiversity and tourism, Slabber said the two countries can really learn from each other and can have good relations with one another because South Africa and the Philippines are in similar stages of development.

“We have economies that are similar in size; we are dealing with the same kind of issues: inequality in society and issues on poverty which most developed countries don’t deal with. Given that the problems that we face as countries, it also means that our solutions can be similar. And that’s why we believe that South Africa and the Philippines can learn from one another. Also, our certain advances in science and technology are the same as the Philippines has gone through. And in that field, we see great collaboration, because we can work together at creating solutions for problems that both of us have,” he said.

Aside from Mount Hamiguitan in San Isidro, Ambassador Slabber together with his wife Ms. Sumarie Slabber also visited other tourism destinations in the province which are the Sleeping Dinosaur, Dahican Beach and Flying Saga in the City of Mati, and the Caraga Church and Pusan Point Eco Park in Caraga town. By Karen Lou Deloso/ Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan, Kenneth Sobrecarey, and Yon Maybuena-CIO. 

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