CAVITE’S MARDI GRAS: THE PAHIMIS COFFEE FESTIVAL

Amadeo, CAvite, Feb. 9, 2003 -- The grandeur of a grand festival will be felt by participants and spectators during the second Amadeo Pahimis Coffee Festival set Feb. 14-16 in the historical province of Cavite.

All 109 dancers who represented Parañaque City in the recently-concluded Sinulog Festival in Cebu City complete with their enormous props will join the host town’s ‘coffee-costumed’ street dancers on Friday afternoon, as the celebration of the Pahimis goes into higher gear right on opening day.

The participation of the Parañaque City Sinulog 2003 contingent in the PahimisMayor Joey P. Marqez’s personal gift to Cavite Gov. Ayong S. Maliksi whom he fondly calls “Tatay” highlights the special ties that bind the fastest-growing metropolis south of Manila and the province known as the cradle of Philippine independence.

It underscores as well the very serious intent of the Caviteños to have their coffee festival join the ranks of the Sinulog in Cebu City, Dinagyang in Iloilo City, MassKara in Bacolod City, the Ati-Atihan in Antique, or the Flower Festival of Baguio City.

“Ours,” says Gov. Maliksi, “may not yet match the scope and grandeur, for instance, of the just concluded Sinulog Festival of Cebu City, but we will get there.”

Which is why Gov. Maliksi and his think-tank are leaving no stone unturned to drum up interest for the agro-tourism event that he hopes will showcase Cavite both as a leading coffee grower and a tourist destination.

Like the famous festivals in other parts of the country, street-dancing in the afternoon ushers in the Pahimis festival , followed by non-stop, all-night partying also in the street to the music of a slew o f popular bands from Manila on the same day.

“If the Sinulog focuses on the Sto. Nino, Pahimis will center on coffee which we abundantly grow in our upland towns,” says Maliksi, who has vigorously pushed for the rehabilitation of the coffee industry in Cavite since he assumed office as governor in June 2001.

Thus, explains the Amadeo Tourism Council, the Pahimis’ street-dancers will wear costumes made of any parts of a coffee tree or coffee bean . Over three days, guests will be treated to c offee farm tours and free refillable coffee drink.

Or at the Green House, which will house the trade fair, they will have their pick of the very popular coffee specialty shops of Metro Manila. Starbucks, Figaro, Coffee Republic, Or Culinary Exchange.

Not to mention that the nation’s leading coffee roasters such as Nescafe, Great Taste and Café Puro will be there as well.

Affirming government support for the coffee industry, Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo will lead a power list of guests who have already confirmed their presence in the Pahimis, which underscores the continuing effort of the provincial government of Cavite to spearhead the rehabilitation of an industry that was once a traditional source of revenues for the country.

Also attending are Senators Ping Lacson (A genuine Caviteno from Imus), Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., Manny Villar, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon, Pagcor chair Ephraim Genuino, and Makati Business Club president Guillermo B. Luz.

Gov. Maliksi said the staging of the festival in the town of Amadeo, Cavite’s No. 1 coffee grower, is in keeping with the province’s new image as the present coffee capital of the country. “I read in the papers that the people of Batangas have already conceded the title to us. Though we readily associated Batangas with kapeng-barako (brewed coffee) in the past, most of the supply even then came from our province.”

From being an exporter of some $15 million worth of coffee, the Philippines is now a net importer of th e second most traded commodity next to oil. This year alone, the country is estimated to import about P1.4 billion worth of coffee beans from Vietnam and Indonesia.

Looking after the welfare of the over 9,000 coffee farmers of his province, Gov. Maliksi moved to revive and tap additional market for Cavite-grown coffee beans. As an initial step, Maliksi passed an executive order stipulating that only local coffee shall be served inside the Provincial Capitol in Trece Martirez City.

“Our coffee industry in Cavite was in the ICU, so to speak, when I began my term as governor in June 2001,” says Maliksi. “This, despite the fact that we have become a net importer of the commodity. Add to this t he additional knowledge that we have suddenly become a nation of coffee drinkers, as evidenced by th e mushrooming and success of coffee specialty shops hereabouts. Why then should our coffee growers still lose?”

To call national attention to Cavite’s leading effort to revive the coffee industry, Gov. Maliksi pushed for the staging of the first Pahimis coffee festival in Amadeo, which was held over 11 days in April 2002, and the creation of the Cavite Coffee Development Board.

President Arroyo immediately responded by creating the Presidential Task Force on Coffee Rehabilitation, now called the Coffee Development Board of which Gov. Maliksi sits as national adviser.

Also appointed to the board which is headed by Nikki Matti are Dr. Andy Mojica, research director of the Cavite State University, and Amadeo Councilor Rene R. Tongson, representing the collective local government units throughout the country.

An immediate result of this consolidated effort to boost the local coffee industry is the present increase in the price of coffee from R22 per kilo to R42 per kilo.

Gov. Maliksi foresees a sustained increase in the price of local coffee in the face of the ever rising global demand for the commodity and Cavite coffee growers showing the way for the industry.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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