The One Visayas Team, composed of NEDA Regional Offices (NROs) 6, 7, and 8, was crowned the overall 1st runner up of the 1st Visayas-Mindanao NROs and Productivity Enhancement Conference held in Butuan City on 11-13 October 2019.

The team bagged five (5) trophies on their way to placing 2nd overall during the event – including the championship in men’s basketball which proved to be a test of endurance and determination for the One Visayas players.

Playing their third game in two days, One Visayas showed their grit after coming back from a double digit deficit in the first quarter to beat NEDA Central Office (NCO), 72-54. The game started poorly for the One Visayas team as the bigger and stronger NCO dominated the paint, grabbing rebounds and shooting second-chance points against a considerably smaller One Visayas team.

One Visayas came out strong in the second half after putting together a scoring run in the middle of the second quarter that helped spark the team back to winning form. The defense also started to get its rhythm back as the team started to force NCO out of the paint and shoot jump shots and long range threes.

Al Rae S. Zabala of NRO 8 and One Visayas was named most valuable player (MVP) of the series after leading the team to comfortable victories in their first two games as a do-it-all point guard – dishing out assists, shooting threes, and leading the fast break against the bigger players on the court. While not the most prolific scorer, his impact in every game was undeniable as he seemed to always be at the right place at the right time to make big plays for his team.

Meanwhile, One Visayas was also able to grab a 2nd runner-up trophy each in men’s and women’s badminton doubles, 2nd runner-up in bowling, and 1st runner-up in both tug of war and table tennis.

While the trophies were a welcome recognition of the players’ efforts, the true reward during the three-day event was the camaraderie formed among the NEDAns of Visayas and Mindanao.

Maintaining work-life balance

While the sports competitions were the highlight of the event, participants also participated in a mini-workshop and discussion on mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to help them reduce the stress they experience at work.

Dr. Parkash T. Mansukhani, Emeritus Medical Consultant at the Davao Doctors Hospital, provided insights on evidence-based mindfulness to the staff present highlighting its effectiveness in stress reduction and productivity enhancement among its practitioners.

Similarly, NEDA Corporate Affairs Group Undersecretary Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa acknowledged the importance of the event, calling it a “trailblazing activity” since NEDA didn’t use to have activities focused on maintaining the work-life balance among its staff. He emphasized that the activity is not purely a sports program, but an opportunity to build networks and connections among NEDA staff.

A tour of the historic city

Staff of NRO 8 also took the opportunity to take a tour of Butuan City. Along with other NROs, they visited the Butuan National Museum which traces the rich history of the city from its founding, to its height as a trading and maritime power, and up to the present time. From burial practices to techniques in metallurgy, the NRO staff were given an insight into the rich history of Butuan and in extension, the greater Caraga region.

Artifacts abound in the museum – the result of decades of excavations – though much of what has been found are stored in the National Museum in Manila or kept by private collectors like the Ayala Museum. What do remain, however, still has the power to astound as it paints a vivid picture of the lives of the people who carved out a maritime kingdom here hundreds of years ago.

Article and Photos by: Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII