I write this bulletin from my hotel room in Davao City, where I have had a wonderful opportunity to accompany just over a dozen individuals from Victoria to attend the 102nd Annual Communication (convention) of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of the Philippines.
It was the first time in Davao for my wife Di and me, as it was for most of the others in the visiting delegation. We were all provided with a valuable insight into how a small city in the southern Philippines can transform itself into a very livable and safe place, with a developing infrastructure.
The Convention also afforded us the opportunity to listen to speeches by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the City Mayor of Davao, the honourable Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio. While both their speeches were quite different, their love and passion for the Philippines were most evident.
The President spoke about the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea in recent years and how his approach has managed to ease the tension by pursuing bilateral talks on the territorial conflict while enhancing bilateral links with China on joint sea exploration, trade, investments, and tourism, among others. The Honourable Mayor displayed her pride in her city and, after warmly welcoming the nearly 4,000-strong audience, and speaking of the principles and values of Freemasonry, further marked the occasion by declaring a Centennial Year of Freemasonry in Davao.
All in all, the trip is proving quite an eye-opener, and I encourage you to consider Mindanao as a possible destination for your next holiday.