‘Soba’ trivia to transport link plan, and more…..
TOKYO – The next time you see a cup of soba-labeled instant noodles in stalls of your favorite convenient stores, think of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the principal source of raw materials to producing the popular buckwheat-based soba in this Japanese capital.
I was surprised to know this myself from a recent visit to the Nissey Delica Corporation, which runs the processing plant of the Japanese soba noodles here.
ARMM Cabinet Secretary Norkhalila Mambuay-Campong and I represented the ARMM Regional Government to the 2013 Mindanao Young Leaders Invitation Program of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for a working visit to this city, and in Hiroshima, Osaka and Kyoto, from October 21 to 28.
But more than this ARMM-Japan trivia on the nutritious antioxidant soba noodles, the trip proved more fruitful to the region’s communities in broader terms— particularly, in the series of dialogues and interface or exchange of views with Japanese development scholars, along with representatives from non-government organizations (NGOs) operating in the region.
Also invited to and joining this year’s MOFA were Brigadier General Cesar Sedillio, Chairman of the GRP-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Engr. Windel Diangcalan, Program Division Head of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Prof. Sarah Radam, Senior Researcher of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies and Ms. Noraida Abo, Program Director of UnYPhil-Women.
It was learned that, a nutritious Japanese buckwheat noodles widely known by its market label “soba”, are exclusively sold at Seven-Eleven chain of convenient stores in Japan.
Specifically, Japan imports the supply of soba raw materials from a 20-hectare buckwheat farm in Bumbaran, Lanao del Sur.
Exchange of views and interface with Japanese experts in the government and private sectors delved on Japan’s role in the development of the region and the mutual benefits of sustaining that development and economic ties in the levels of the government and the NGOs. We also visited some industrial and cultural institutions.
Among the officials that Cabinet Secretary Mambuay-Campong and I met were His Excellency Toshinao Urabe, Japan’s Ambassador to the Philippines; His Excellency Manuel M. Lopez of the Philippine Embassy in Japan; Minister Hironori Shibata, Head of Political Section, Embassy of Japan; Deputy Director-General Kenjie Kanasugi, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the MOFA, Japan; Director General Miura Kazunori of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Professor Hidefumi Ogawa of University of Tokyo Foreign Studies; and Professor Yoshida Osamu of Hiroshima University.
We also raised with JICA officials the current initiatives of the Autonomous Regional Government, mainly the regional plan on connectivity. The land areas of ARMM provinces not being geographically contiguous, the connectivity plan covers inter-provincial transport route links or network by land, sea, and air.
Aside from the Nissey Delica Corporation, the ARMM government and private sector delegation also had the opportunity to visit the Mazda Motor factory in Hiroshima. It was gathered that the factory is producing 1,000 units of Mazda vehicles daily with one unit being assembled in 15 hours in each motor vehicle assembly port.
A dialogue on the state of the Mindanao Peace Processes took place in Tokyo University on Foreign Studies and Hiroshima University. (Japan is one of the countries whose governments constitute the international observers of the ongoing peace process between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF).
The Japanese students of the university excellently presented a Philippine cultural dance onstage, before the start of the dialogue. They had studied in the University of the Philippines prior to taking up foreign studies in Tokyo, according to Japanese officials.
The weeklong trip ended with significant sightseeing to famous and historical landmarks castles and temples of Osaka and Kyoto. (Baintan A. Ampatuan C.E., RPDO Executive Director)