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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, June 15, 2012
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Sol Y Sombra
with Rex Remetio

Negros rising?

It is ironic that even as I write under the heading Negros Rising, the sugar industry – the backbone of our island economy since time immemorial - is worrying about the plunging (is plunging the accurate word?) sugar prices by about 10 percent every year until 2015. The protective tariffs, in short, will decrease every year until 2015.

(Imported foreign sugar is cheaper. The cost of production is obviously lower. More efficient. Greater government subsidy? Whatever. Simply put, we can’t compete unless something bright and brilliant happens.)

It’s good for the sugar Industry that we have an Albee Benitez who has taken the lead in meeting the challenge. His House Bill 6113 seeks to make our sugar mills, produce not only sugar but also full power (ethanol?), alcohol and other by-product. In a word – high productivity. Lower cost for every unit produced. Local sugar becomes competitive. It should because there’s no transport cost.

But everyone knows that sugar has been a “ferris wheel” industry. Sometimes you’re up there, then the wheel goes down. During the Marcos dictatorship, sugar planters suffered. But enough of that for now.

The title of the piece is still: Negros Rising? Will ethanol from sorghum, oil from lemon grass and other new agricultural products like rubber from plantations in Bayawan City, combine to help our island realized the dream of prosperity. Negros soil is blessed because eons ago, a volcano we call Canla-on spewed ashes that fertilized our plains. We ought to be prosperous.

And what of tourism in Negros island,? I have said to some people about sights --- you don’t have to go to Hawai-i to be enthused by lovely mountains, blue against a pale sky. Just take a drive to Salvador Benedicto and on to San Carlos City and the curbing highways will convince you that Negros Island is the fairest among the fair.

PACQUIAO. It’s hard, no it’s impossible for a columnist not to write about the Pacquiao-Bradley bout. We Filipinos have, over the years, trooped to eateries, movie houses, hotels, etc. to view the rampaging Manny mow down the opposition.

On my part, last Sunday, June 10, I was tempted to skip the spectacle of a Pacquiao fight --- there was, I thought, no more thrill since everyone knew the

end – Pacquiao triumphant. Noon however found me at Ting-Ting’s where a kind waiter sneaked me into a chair. People around tables seemed to be drinking beer or else wrestling with “inasal”. Noon was high noon. Fight begun, two matrons in the nearby table began squealing every time Pacman delivers a hit. That’s how emotionally we are involved in boxing.

Everyone who saw the fight on TV will have his own assessment as to who really won the fight. Was Pacquiao robbed? Was the Mafia instrumental on tilting the victory in favor of Bradley?

In Vegas, your one dollar on Bradley will gain 4 dollars if he wins. One million for Bradley will be transformed to 40 million if the black guy wins. Mafia? Nobody could be sure; Las Vegas is a city of gamblers. Who can say?

Or was there a conspiracy to end the dominance of an Asian on the boxing throne and substitute an American in his stead? This is the racist theory. A bit too far-fetched. Why should the U.S. care that a brown man glitters in the ring; they have a black president.

Did Pacman lose his killer instinct. Did Father Time decide to slow the rampaging Pacman? Questions like that float in the air. They will, for a long time.*

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