Don’t Tell my Mom That I was in Maguindanao

November 23, 2009, the Filipino nation and the international community were shocked with the killing of 50+ victims in what is now known as the “Maguindanao Massacre”—the worst election-related violence at that time. Brought up by rivalry of powerful families that ruled the Cotabato basin, the supposedly peaceful convoy for filing candidacy was turned into bloodbath when armed men allegedly belonging to the ruling family intercepted the convoy and mercilessly killed, mutilated and hastily buried the victims in the hills of Maguindanao—leaving their lifeless bodies, crushed cars and a backhoe bearing the name of the ruling clan. Most number that was killed were journalists, same as with the wife of the opposition leader, his relatives, and some who weren’t part of the convoy at all. The event has left a lasting imprint to every Filipino psyche regarding Maguindanao—armed, lawless, deadly and violent. As of the time of writing, the province of Maguindanao, now under the then-opposition leader’s rule, is still under state of emergency.

Somewhere over those hills, the howling and the wailing of the dead seeking justice

Personally, I myself was stunned by the event. That same highway that I passed in 2005 (read my article on my 2005 trip at Maguindanao) was the same highway that the convoy was intercepted. I got numb when some of Tacurong City Hall people, whom have helped me in my thesis in college, was also murdered point blank-despite their non-involvement at the convoy. It was unbelievable that such cold-blooded act happened in this modern day and age—barbaric and devoid of civility. Then the opportunity came in, I was to visit Cotabato City when I went to GenSan—no other choice but to pass by Maguindanao once more. This time, I face Maguindanao on a different light, a different era…

Continue reading Don’t Tell my Mom That I was in Maguindanao

This Has Not Been Moving For A Long Time!

This map has been stagnant for so long already. Long gone are the days of travel splurge and exploration-during my childhood, high school and college days. The last province that I’ve explored was Ilocos Sur and Vigan City. The rest are “revisits.” I haven’t added up any province since December 2009. Well, priorities . . . → Read More: This Has Not Been Moving For A Long Time!

Bewitching Roxas City Capiz!

Old Capiz Bridge over Pan-ay River

Old Capiz Bridge over Pan-ay River

It may be the notion of generally most of the Filipinos. Saying Capiz is generalizing to poltergeists and “aswangs” and more carnivores, no thanks to media who brought stereotyping to this laidback beauty in northern Panay. Roxas City, the capital of the northern Panay province of Capiz, its the main agro-industrial hub of the province. Dubbed as the “Seafood Capital of the Philippines”, it is blessed by bountiful harvests from both the sea, rivers and the land.

The city of more than a hundred thousand souls, it has a swampy area in the northern area and a hilly section in the southern area. Panay River runs through the downtown, giving a romantic scene in the city. Daw wala man kahaladlukan man di! Media! (There’s nothing to fear here! Media!)

I took Ivan Henares (of Ivan Around Town [www.ivanhenares.com]) and his friend JQ Quesada for a quick trip to Capiz for a heritage tour. This city was formerly known as Capiz, known for its shell industry of Capiz and the hometown of the former President Manuel Roxas. Just a few kilometers away east is the largest church bell in the country. Continue reading Bewitching Roxas City Capiz!

A Night of Crossing the Islands: Cebu to Iloilo

Cebu-Iloilo Route Map (Image Courtesy of Google)

Cebu-Iloilo Route Map (Image Courtesy of Google)

This was my personal experience crossing the Visayas on that fateful night. It was daring, it was bold and some say it was stupid. But nevertheless, I earned great experience with this trip and will be doing this route over and over again. This article was posted on June 15, 2022 at Habagat.i.ph originally entitled “Bittersweet Escape: Two Queen Cites, One Night, One Sugar Island.”

I’m experiencing problems with my life in Cebu during these times. At times like these, I just wanted to get out of everything, therefore I went home, to Iloilo. The sudden decision that I made affected the schedule of my whole week for I wanted to escape the urban jungle the soonest time possible, under the cover of the night. Crossing the seas and the mountains in the cover of the night and the shade of morning dew. In less than 12 hours. For the faint-hearted and non-risk takers, this is not for you. For cash-strapped and the adventurous, this is one hell of a risking cutting trip to Iloilo from Cebu! Continue reading A Night of Crossing the Islands: Cebu to Iloilo

The Road Less Traveled: Passing by Maguindanao

Originally posted at Habagat.i.ph on 21 May 2022

Ampatuan Residence, Sharrif Aguak, Maguindanao

Ampatuan Residence, Sharrif Aguak, Maguindanao

Two years ago, I couldn’t believe that I crossed for what they say, one of the most treacherous highways in the country. Only a few years ago, during the Estrada Administration, the only thing that you see here are bombshells, mortars, evacuating people and guns, guns and more guns. Crossfire was everywhere, and media blows it all up in Manila.

That was several years ago. The waring factions agreed upon a ceasefire while two bodies of negotiators tried to resolve this centuries-old conflict. Me, I’m busy with my thesis, and will trace the path that most of my thesis respondents’ took to the Land of Promise, and it was through that path that they took the road, or maybe a way less traveled.

And now, on the headlines again, this side of this tropical state in the Philippines has a lot of potential when it comes to resources and tourism. A lot of things that are still untapped because of unreliable peace and order and poltical suitation in Maguindanao.

I believe that this highway is one of the most well-paved in the country. The shuttle van zoomed effortlessly through the fields and the hills of Sultan Kudarat, then to Maguindanao all the way to Cotabato City within just less than 2 hours.

One October morning, it was Ramadan for our Muslim brethen. I’ve been wanting to see the entrepot of my subjects in my thesis: Cotabato City, almost a hundred kilometers away from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat Province. And boy the van in Tacurong terminal was waiting to be filled up. I have to be there early, or else I’ll be stranded in Cotabato City without any idea where to sleep over. So, I went up to Isulan, the capital of the province, passing through palm oil plantations that are owned by Negrense hacienderos. Isulan is where most of Cotabato bound buses and vans pass by. One of the largest Christian settlements in Central Cotabato.

Continue reading The Road Less Traveled: Passing by Maguindanao

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