Mindanao—the second largest island in, down south of the republic…very far yet so close to my heart. For most of the urbanites, it is a place that most should avoid because of adjectives associated with it: war-torn, poverty-stricken and home of the “terrorists.” Indeed, the notion of the island has evaded so many people to visit this great island in the south. However, in my own perspective, we have to take a second look onto this island. Mindanao has so much to offer, so much to see, so much to experience yet so neglected and feared by many.
Mindanao was (and for some, still is) “The Wild West” of the Philippines, as what they said–a tapestry of stories of three seemingly opposite cultures, vastly still unexplored and full of potential.
It wasn’t my first time seeing our indigenous peoples head to the city to earn for a living. Just like a probinsyano attracted to the prospects of greener pastures of the big city, some IPs “go down” and seek better opportunities, to either prosper or to survive. The three photos I’d be showing is just one example of such. Captured during Kadayawan Festival in Davao City last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice this group of lumad girls wearing their bright indigenous clothing and posed for a souvenir shot together with a foreigner and several local tourists. My guess is that the group earns a living by posing for tourists or entertain using their indigenous music or probably selling their bracelets that they made. I still yet to know what particular indigenous group is it.
It was Friday noon of June 29th, a cloudy day in Iloilo Airport. I picked up my fellow Geo-Advocate Wayne Manuel from the airport in Iloilo. It was his first time coming to Iloilo and I am glad to be at his service to have him greeted at the airport and send him to his hotel at the city. I was to finish several tasks that day, so we opted to take the easiest and fastest mode of public transportation between the airport and the city—the taxi.
I was supposed to write about my personal Visita Iglesia last Holy Thursday, but I couldn’t help but notice the journey that we took, the characters and faces that the streets of Manila shows that Thursday. In this blogpost, I would like to go back to two streets which are two streets that are contrasting with each other, yet a mirror of Manila’s character: Escolta and Carriedo.
Manila has been the capital of the islands since the Spanish colonial era, and it has been a hub of political power and of commerce. From the northern banks of Pasig River, just across the walled city now called Intramuros, this became Manila’s economic hub because it’s near the docks. Between the districts of Binondo and Santa Cruz, Escolta’s prominence rose. On another side, connecting Quiapo to Santa Cruz is the busy street market of Carriedo.
Call me a nomad.
Since birth, I have been roaming around the Philippines and was perhaps destined to roam the country and perhaps the world–how I wish. There was no event in my life that didn’t involve traveling. It is part of me and my family. It wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t for those frequent “family-work oriented excursions” that we had back in my childhood days or my adventures into the unknown.
Traveling is part of my system, and the way that defines Berniemack and HabagatCentral.
How about Dinagyang in the amateur photographer’s perspective? Iloilo’s annual grand festival draw large crowds from different parts of the country and the world, especially those who are armed with lenses called cameras—DSLR or point-and-shoot ones. While it may be similar to just taking photos of the Ati warriors in Kalibo, Dinagyang’s dynamics in photography are way different. Though known for its fast paced choreography and a season known to give various lighting conditions and colourful costumes, photographers, both amateur and even professional, takes this festival seriously amongst the heat and beat of the drums.
I loathe mediocrity, just to be honest. Not only that its lame, it’s also stale and somehow devoid of life. Status quo, zilch, nada! However in my case, one of mediocrity’s origins may have been complacency or should I say too much complacency, too much traditional thinking, and too much of a status quo. Yes, in my opinion, complacency breeds mediocrity—and is often contagious in a society.
I’ll share an experience of a kingdom not so far away.
From Iligan to Marawi, it usually takes an hour by van or FX (Asian utility vehicle). Passing by the towns of Balo-i, Pantar and Saguiran, you can’t help but notice banners everywhere. Politicians for early campaigning? Nope. Mostly congratulatory coming from the families of the achievers. Yes folks, banners and steamers are not an election campaign exclusive in Marawi and the rest of Lanao del Sur. It’s an everyday part of life, just like urbanites in Manila see the billboards at SLEX and EDSA. Manila-based outdoor and billboard advertisers may think of setting up a branch here, market demand here is high!
“Alhamdulillah (It’s the Arab equivalent of “Hallelujah!”) and Congratulations!” everywhere—from board passers, bar passers, Hajj delegates, weddings, birthdays, and even to coronation of the sultans–you name it and Marawi has a multitude of these banners and streamers. Before the advent of those giant billboards at EDSA, Marawi has all of these fill up Iligan-Marawi Road and most especially every nook within the city. They may even compete with Guinness Record as “The city with most number of congratulatory streamers and banners per square kilometer!” Unlike EDSA though, they are not monstrous in size, but the number of banners can easily overwhelm people who are not used to these.
It was an unplanned trip and my first time visiting this side of Zamboanga Peninsula (Zampen). It was my first time to step in Asia’s Latin City, Zamboanga City. However, I wasn’t also expecting that I’ll be going all the way northeast of the city with my dad, to the new province of Zamboanga Sibuguey, where he is working right now—and to its capital town that became a national headlines more than 15 years ago—Ipil.