It was my first sunrise after my birthday. I was in Mati City, Davao Oriental Province to accompany my dad for his project in the mountains of the province. That morning, I went to the beach that has been popular to backpackers and surfers alike—Dahican Beach. For surfers, it’s an alternative to Siargao Island. For travelers, it’s a paradise so close to this laidback city. …continue reading
This is the beginning of my personal journey between two cities (localities), that I call home. Both south of Manila, one in the middle, the other one at extreme south. Each has different characters, each has a story to tell about my life. This is part of the series, A Tale of Two Cities.
Chapter 1: May 6, 2002 – A New Day Has Come…
I’m not supposed to write personal stuff here on my travel blog, but this day, a decade ago, was one of the most significant dates that happened in my personal life. It was the day that I arrived in Iloilo, hoping to start a new beginning, a new life—and it did. My move south a decade ago had made one of the most lasting legacies that made me who I am now, and what HabagatCentral is all about.
Di na ako makikisabay sa trending topic about the recent “Thrilla in NAIA” by Mon Tulfo and Claudine and Raymart Santiago which I guess a lot of blogs, forums, and in social media, are talking about. Anyway, the airport is a place where stress levels may go up. I have one experience, but at least managed to control myself and didn’t go barbaric. But I was a bit tense, since it was my first time.
I always show up at the airport, either 2 hours before the departing time (or even way earlier) or an hour before the flight if I’m done web check-in. It’s a contest of getting the best seat on the plane (always on window please, Alpha or Fox Trot). It was just recent when I started using seat selector, but not on all flights. But the morning of April 20th in Manila’s NAIA Terminal 3, something came in. It was my first time…and it wasn’t a pleasant one. My first late check-in. The first time I was left by my flight!
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.
I have been curious about Marawi City in Mindanao. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about it. Wild, violent and seemingly dangerous place—these were my perceptions of the capital of Lanao Del Sur Province in Mindanao Island. A lot of people told me not to go there or don’t even bother to think about it or else you might get killed, robbed or kidnapped. And yet curiosity has fueled me to go there—and I got a chance.
Against the wishes of my mother (who went ballistic when she knew my plan and I was already in Cagayan de Oro), I went to Marawi City, which is just about three to four hours away from Cagayan de Oro City.
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.
Traveling has become one of the increasing hobbies of every Filipino nowadays, thanks to cheaper airfare and greater accessibility. Of course, one seeks the adventure, exploring new horizons, cultures, environment and experiencing fun at the same time.
For most young viajeros and viajeras, fun and adventure is always entailed with every new destination they get through. And for some people, “fun and adventure” may also mean leisurely “making love to their partners,” or straightly speaking—“have sexual intercourse with someone.” That’s thrill and adrenaline rush rolled into one. Of course, it might get involved with having to “play all the night with that ‘unknown’ someone.” Making love in Boracay or Puerto Galera or anywhere with an unknown partner may just bring you somewhere in the dark, rolling in the deep, and probably would end up as a nightmare instead.
Morning approaches in the highlands of the T’boli people. The lake was placid and the air was cool. The fog hugs the ground and the water surface and the canoes make ripple of the lake’s serenity. Hay paradise…Psst Marc, bugtaw na! Lakat pa ta sa lotus pads sa Pag-asa! (Marc, wake up! We’ll be going to the lotus pads in Pag-asa). We jump started our morning right in Lake Sebu, as Marc of Explore Iloilo and I had a mission that morning—to seek the fabled lotus gardens of Lake Sebu, the flower mostly associated with the T’boli people, other than the t’nalak cloth and the brass bling-blings they have.
Ever since I was a kid, I held fascination over maps. I buy maps—err; I let my parents buy me some maps. From the cheapest school maps to book atlases perhaps. Geography is my favourite subject in school. This is where you get to memorize the provinces of the Philippines and its capitals, per region, their culture and history. I sleep with the old Manila book maps back in the 1990s. I bring them at school. Maps have been my obsession–seeing places, imagining places and even memorizing the way how to get there. In other words, GPS has been programmed already since the 1990s, hehe!
Maps have given me comfort. It is one way to see the world—for me. Atlases at least gave me some glimpse. Yet it’s not enough. Postcard perfect photos, very shallow write-up, outdated facts and not so detailed maps were the limitations of these. Internet back then was still very limited and expensive—and was turtle slow if we compare it on today’s standards. So, I just go to the library and browse every atlas or any other books relating to culture, history and geography of the places. I’m not also that rich to go to Disneyland or Paris or NY…these were my humble flying carpets.