JAPANESE CHAMBER of Commerce-Mindanao Vice-President Takeyoshi Sumikawa has announced that they are working with Japanese agriculturist Masayuki Takahashi to plant 10,000 cherry blossom seedlings in Barangay Mintal, Davao City and in Marawi City. “We will start the project very soon,” he said, noting that they have initially brought 800 seedlings of sakura, Japanese for cherry blossoms, and started to grow these in a nursery located at the Eden Nature Park in Davao. “We will start the experiment and we want to confirm that the sakura trees will grow in Mintal. It takes three years for sakura trees to grow and come out with flowers,” he said. A part of Mintal is known as the “Little Tokyo” in Davao, an old Japanese settlement pre-dating World War II where a Japanese cemetery is located. Mr. Sumikawa said planting sakura trees is a good investment in terms of attracting more tourists.

In Marawi, Mr. Sumikawa said they have visited the so-called ground zero from the 2017 siege and want to contribute to rebuilding the devastated city. He said they had a meeting with Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana and expressed their intention to borrow military land in Marawi for the sakura trees. “We want to start experimental planting in Marawi. We can start next year. Considering the weather there, which is suitable for sakura trees,” he said. In Japan, he explained, cherry blossoms symbolize peace and the beauty of life, and stands as a reminder that life, while overwhelmingly beautiful, is also tragically short. “This is the first time that we will try planting sakura in the Philippines. We want to show the sakura to the Filipinos,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo