FEBRUARY 12 bid results: Vicmico A = P1,712.30 & B = P1,880; HPCo A = P1,706, B = P1,935 & molasses = P8,120; Sagay & Lopez A = P1,712.30 & B = P1,880; Biscom A = P1,703.88, B = P1,812.05 & molasses = P8,278; Sonedco A = P1,670.58, B = P1,980 & molasses = P8,200.

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Last Friday, SRA released Sugar Order No. 9, Series of 2009-2010 entitled “Verification of ‘A’ or US Market Sugar Quedans for CY 2009-2010.

The drop in world sugar production indicates that the US might increase the Philippines’ quota. Such an increase might be announced by April.

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In anticipation of the additional US quota, SRA needs “to ensure the early processing of documents, as well as the eventual shipment of the sugar to comply with deadlines of the US Department of Agriculture for the sugar to arrive in US ports.”

The preparation necessitates the determination of the volume of actual physical sugar ready for shipment or of the sugar that traders and exporters are ready to ship to the US.

So No. 9 mandates that all “A” sugar quedan-permits issued for the current crop year (all “A” quedans issued from the start of the crop year until week-ending January 31, 2010) and all reinstated “A” sugar quedan-permits of previous crop years are eligible for verification.

Deadline for verification is on March 8, 2010. The “A” quedans which are not verified after the deadline will be declared “homeless” and non-negotiable/non-marketable. These homeless “A” quedans cannot be withdrawn from the mill.

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As of January 24, raw sugar production increased by 15 percent to 1.18 million MT compared to 1.02 million MT during the same period last crop year. Refined sugar production registered a bigger increase of 38.4 percent at 423,837 MT compared to only 306,221 last crop year.

Raw sugar withdrawals spiked an astonishing 41 percent at 784,224 MT compared to only 556,443 MT last crop year. For refined sugar, withdrawals increased by 15 percent at 470,114 MT compared to 408,515 last crop year.

Raw sugar balance declined 16.57 percent at 479,820 MT as of January 24 compared to 674,045 MT during the same period last crop year. Refined sugar stock balance also declined 31.43 percent at 132,791 MT compared to 193,647 MT last crop year.

Gross ton canes milled was 11.8 million MT, an increase of 10.42 percent from 10.7 MT last crop year. Average LKg/TC improved from 1.91 last crop year to 1.99 as of January 24.

As to production per region, Negros leads the pack with 764,387 MT raw sugar produced as of January 24. This represents an 11.34 percent from last crop year’s 689,508 MT. Mindanao is a far second at 187,481 MT followed closely by Luzon with 124,619 MT. Mindanao’s production increased by 30.6 percent while that of Luzon slightly dipped by 1.25 percent.

Panay produced 68,471 MT as of January 24, an increase by a whooping 57.76 percent compared to only 43,402 MT during the same period last crop year. Eastern Visayas produced 33,199 MT, an increase by 37.91 percent compared to last crop year’s 24,074.

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As the figures show, production of both raw and refined sugar increased as of January 24. However, more significant is the increase in withdrawals – 41 percent for raw and 15 percent for refined.

It’s very puzzling that demand increased that much on a year-on-year basis. Did the Filipinos all of a sudden develop a sweeter tooth, thereby increasing demand for the sweetener? Or are we finally seeing the real consumption of the country, now that high world prices have precluded the entry and availability of smuggled sugar in the market?

World prices are expected to remain high at least up to the end of this year.

With the absence of smuggled sugar, we will finally see at the end of this crop year what the real consumption of the country is. We will also see how large of that consumption has been catered to by smuggled sugar in the past years when world prices were low.

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Yesterday (Monday), we bid our final farewell to Robert “Nene” Buenconsejo, a member of Don Bosco-Victorias Batch ’85. Nene passed away on the day that our batch, being the silver jubilareans, hosted Don Bosco’s 54th alumni homecoming.

Nene had always been present during alumni homecomings and during our batch meetings in preparation for our hosting of the event last Saturday. He was always jolly and happy. He was the kind of guy who does not want to cause any problem or hassle to others. Instead, he wanted everybody to laugh and enjoy themselves when he is around.

Due to an ailment in his intestines, Nene was unable to attend this year’s homecoming. We were devastated to learn later in the day that he passed away.

Some of us could not help ourselves from being emotional.

Most of our batch mates have been together since our pre-school days in St. Mary Mazzarello School until we finished high school in Don Bosco. The bond we developed after more than ten years of being together is so strong that we consider ourselves as brothers. Thus, the loss of a batchmate is a big blow to each one of us.

Members of our batch paid our final earthly tribute to Nene by acting as his pallbearers. Goodbye, dear friend. May you find eternal happiness in our Father’s kingdom.

(For reactions and suggestions, email bbacaoco@yahoo.com.)