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[October 2006]

I took my first business trip down to Davao City in Mindanao(*) in mid-September to attend our Annual Regional Planning Session. Hosting a group of 120 people at the most expensive hotel in town is said to have cost us some 30K dollars or more while the budget allocation for each province is about 300K (UNICEF supports 9 provinces/cities in Mindanao).

Decentralization, through delegating power to the local governments, is believed to have an effect in making the program planning and implementation more efficient. Yet this regional meeting reminded me of the cost we're paying for it. Let's hope that it'll pay off with a great work of the talented and motivated people at the local governments of Mindanao...

* The Philippines is geographically divided into three areas: Luzon (where Manila is), Visayas (Cebu is one of their islands), and Mindanao (known for a large Muslim population and frequent armed conflicts).