THE National Federation of Sugarcane Planters headed by Enrique "Nene" Rojas went to China for an agricultural study tour last July 5 to 10. The delegation visited one sugar mill / refinery and China's equivalent of our PHILSURIN in Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province which is just right across Taiwan.

Since the group was already in China, it was a great opportunity to visit the World Expo in Shanghai which opened last May 1 and will run until the end of October.

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Thanks to Nene Rojas, I was included in the delegation as the official documentor. Primo Esleyer, who was part of the delegation representing the Integrated Sugarcane Growers of Negros, asked me to take footages of the trip so that they can be shown in Feedback over Sunshine Channel. Primo hosts Feedback and is also the president of Sunshine Channel.

Thus, it was not purely a pleasure trip for me. With cameras on my left and right hands, I had to run to and fro, taking still photos and video footages. My trusty backpack came in very handy, as it freed my hands while allowing me to carry with me at all times all the essential tools for my mission - chargers for the cameras, notebook and pens, and brochures and copies of NFSP Bulletin which Nene Rojas distributed to our Chinese hosts so that they can get a clearer idea of what NFSP is all about.

Forty-eight delegates from all over the country comprised the NFSP delegation. Six came from Luzon headed by Cagayan Valley Vice-Governor Leonides Fausto and a couple of his provincial board members. Eight came all the way from Mindanao, including Romy Garcia of Bukidnon and Vicky Dicdican of Davao.

The Ormoc Sugarcane Planters Association had 8 delegates headed by OSPA president Atty. Iñaki Larrazabal, Jr and his wife. With the OSPA delegation were Mr. and Mrs. Danny Torrevillas. Danny is not the fellow you would want to pick a quarrel with. He is the world champion in practical shooting.

Also from Ormoc is my roommate, Climaco Evangelista, chairman of the Occidental Leyte Farmers MPC. We ended up roommates because we share a common vice with P-Noy. Incidentally, my roommate is the father of Purefoods assistant coach and former defense specialist Rey Evangelista.

The Cebu-based Bogo-Medellin Planters Association sent four delegates. The group was headed by its president, the inimitable Jose Mari Miranda. With him were Ponciano Demiar and former mayors Armando Serafin and Mariano Martinez.

The Negros group included Board Member Miller V. Serondo, former congressman Manuel "Bebing" Puey who is now top honcho at the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corp, App-Negros as well as Sunstar-Bacolod president Jaime G. Golez, and Roy Lobaton, president of United Sagay-Escalante Toboso Planters Association.

Of course, the head of the delegation was Nene Rojas who brought along his sons Francis and Ricky. Six NFSP staff and consultants, including Atty. Ike Tabino and myself, also came along.

From the other side of Negros Island, Tolong United Planters Association sent Jovit Niuque, the son of its president, while the Bais-based United Sugarcane Planters of Negros Oriental headed by Baby Hilado sent businessman Henry Tam.

We left Manila onboard a PAL 7:45 a.m. flight to Xiamen, a highly industrialized city which is gearing up for its hosting of the forthcoming International Fair for Investment and Trade slated this September 8 to 11. Xiamen is also the gateway for mainland residents who wish to visit their relatives just across the strait in Taiwan.

My first glance of Xiamen as the plane was descending was that of the bridge which links the island with the mainland. I learned later that it was just one of the four bridges that connect Xiamen with the mainland. Our guide informed us that one of those bridges spans 7 kilometers.

Our arrival at Xiamen International Airport was generally cordial, except for my reception at immigration. My trolley bag passed x-ray inspection but I was puzzled why the immigration police barked at me and gestured for me to open my backpack. Since I had nothing to hide, I immediately opened the bag. They asked me to empty its entire contents.

The things which piqued their interest were the printed materials in my bag. They inspected the NFSP brochures and NFSP Bulletin. The immigration police looked disappointed when he failed to see a copy of FHM inside my bag. Perhaps that's what he was looking for.

The Chinese authorities are vigilant against the entry of subversive documents. I confirmed this when the lady next in line to me was also asked to empty her bag. The police perused the pre-school books she was carrying, apparently for a grandchild in the mainland. The police scrutinize all printed materials.

It was close to noon when we all cleared immigration. Remember, there were 48 of us. We went straight to a traditional Chinese restaurant for lunch. The resto was just walking distance from the International Trade Fair Center where finishing touches were being applied. Next to that are a new hotel and another convention center.

The Chinese are a very voluble people. When they converse, they most often shout at each other. You might think they were about to fight but such volume is just normal to them. Here, you will expect punches to be thrown when people argue with such load voices. In China, it's just the way they argue. After a minute or two, you can see them slapping each other at the back and laughing uproariously.

I'll share more of my China experiences with you in future columns.

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