Monday, November 2, 2009

Final Week for Voter's Registration @ The City COMELEC Office (Cagayan de Oro City)

Last week was the final week for the voter's registration period nationwide. So it has been expected that during this time, the place (City COMELEC Office) will be crammed with a lot people.

I went to the office to register myself here in Cagayan de Oro City. And the place was packed! People from outside the office were crammed in a line which I don't understand what kind of line they were trying to form. There was one door, and the people outside were forming lines like it were the rays of the sun as drawn in the Philippine flag. Clearly, it was just the lack of staff to manage the crowd which gave the yearning voters this kind of experience.

I went to the City COMELEC Office (which is located at Burgos-C. Taal St.) around 9:00 in the morning, and got myself registered finally only in the afternoon, right after the lunch break which is from 12:00nn to 1:00pm. The whole time was spent standing outside the office on the street under the scorching heat of the sun, waiting for my name to be called. The heat was really intense. The umbrella wouldn't be of any use. A better option would be to find a shade under a tree or a wall perhaps. It was so hot that even during lunchtime, when I went to Jollibee (Lourdes College branch) to cool myself off, I still feel feverish. When I touched my head, I can still feel that it's hot.

As you can see, people are crammed on the street just outside the office. This one is taken from the right side of the office. This is the line where people would get their registration forms. And the line moves slowly.

Also here are the people scattered, waiting for their names to be called for the picture taking and the thumb printing.

Outside the office, one can see a lot of stalls selling different varieties of food and drinks. A good sight to see there is the buko juice vendor under the shade of the tree. Out of the current circumstance as of that moment, that was the only sight that neutralized the heat of the sun. Other vendors one will see are the ones which sell tempura, fishballs, kwek-kwek, peanuts (both cooked, and the one with it's shell still intact), and even spaghetti. For the local treats, there were also shakoys, buchi, and the local maja. Along with those, mineral water are also scattered within the vicinity. And there are always mini-stores around the area if you want cold softdrinks or other usual stuff found in mini-stores.

Here's one boy (locally known as the takatak boys) just sitting his time away waiting for people to buy cigarettes or candies from him.

There were people here reported to have collapsed due to the very hot temperature in the area. While I was already inside the office, I saw one woman taken to another part of the office, layed down on the chair, and was given water to drink. Some people outside couldn't bear it anymore and broke away from the line. People there are shouting. One staff at one time got mad and shouted at people to move back because people are pushing in, hoping they could get their registration forms passed. With this situation, people inside find it very difficult to go out. One alarming scene there is seeing women carrying infants and the senior citizens trying to get registered on a scenery like that. If people who are in the primal age find it difficult and very uncomfortable in this kind of situation, how much more people in the extremes of the age bracket?

Some of the elders in the area commented that, why not make the registration available on every baranggay? Why do they have to do everything in just one location? It does make sense. Every baranggay has an office, so why not make the registrations available there instead of pushing every people in the city inside one office? I don't know the reason why the people in the COMELEC office in the city never implemented that. But I hope next time, they will try to implement that.

These I noticed: There were only two computers available inside the office; they lack staff--there was no one outside who could manage to make the people fall in line; there was one security guard though who was standing near the door; and I think they are still resorting to the stone age process of handling files with the use of paper. I have seen bulks of paper inside the office in which I think are the registration forms. Not sure though what other files are included in the pile. Why not make everything computerized? The government could set aside a budget for computers inside the office. And they could always hire people to manage all the relevant data. There are a lot of capable people in the city who could do that. But we don't really know; maybe it's that hard for the office to request a budget for that goal. Also, to be able to get a registration form, you should fall in line first to get a priority number. But what happened was, once you get your priority number, there was no staff who would be calling the numbers. What people did there, was they went in line again leading to the office door to get their registration forms. In other words, the priority number was of no use. It just added up to the burdens of registering. It was pretty stupid actually.

I'm waiting for the time when voter's registration and voting perhaps will become a luxury that every people will enjoy. One day, I hope it will come to that.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back On Track by Small Time Only Promotions

Yet another gig that's free. Small Time Only Promotions (STOP), one of the local music productions existing in the city, is setting up a gig this coming Saturday, October 31, at Mandex Bar, Velez-Nacalaban St., Cagayan de Oro City. This would just be near Medical Hospital, besides Tapsi Time.

Ten bands will be playing. Most of the bands I know on the line-up have their own original compositions, and most probably will be playing them. So in order for you to see what these guys have in store for the city, go and watch the gig. It's for free anyway--but drinks are not.

I noticed that there are a number of gigs putted up around the city that's free of charge for two consecutive weekends now. This will be opportunities for people in the city to check out what Cagayan de Oro's bands have to offer without spending for the entrance fee. From the looks of it, it seems like the city is trying to revive the local music scene like it once had 2-6 years ago. I hope these groups, small as they can be, will be able to proliferate the flame that the city potentially has.

Gig starts exactly at 8pm. So you guys best be there before that time. And to all the photographers around the city, you guys are warmly invited to take shots at the gig.

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Retrofest at Chaibodia Bistro Cafe

Retrofest--this was a gig that happened on the night of October 24 along with the Project Lifeline gig (a tribute to the victims of the typhoon Ondoy) that happened near Rotunda in the new Bridge at Macasandig. Retrofest was a beneficiary gig to some missionary program by a certain Meling Abuga-a. I do not really know the details (I failed to ask due to fatigue), but I was able to talk to one of the persons who collected donations about what the program was all about. She said that it was raised for feeding programs and other things of the like and this will be headed by Meling Abuga-a (if I heard it right, she is active in the local Arts scene inside the city). For that, I was compelled to donate my little P30.00.

For the details of the event, some of the local bands in Cagayan de Oro City took part in the gig. These bands played acoustic versions of their songs, as well as some of the 60's and 70's song they were covering for that night. We were also able to see some of the old faces in the local music scene of Cagayan, as well as new ones.

To top it all, the gig was for free. They accepted donations, but basically, it was for free. You have to pay for your drinks of course. And the place served grilled food and others, so the place was worth going to.

A little trivia: the name Chaibodia was taken from the owner's name, which is 'Chai', and 'bodia' which is something that pertains to Buddhism. Seeing the owner of the cafe, I didn't expect her to be that young. She's probably on her mid-20's, if I may get it right.

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Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3 Conclusion

The Mindanao Bloggers Summit took place last Saturday (Oct. 24) at Pearlmont Inn Hotel here in Cagayan de Oro City. There were a lot of bloggers who participated in the event. Bloggers from Davao City, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Iligan City, and even some not from Mindanao like Manila, and Baguio I guess. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) Yes, bloggers from places as far as those came all the way here in Cagayan de Oro City to join the said event. I am sure it was an honor for Cagayan de Oro City to be hosting such an event.

Major sponsors to the event were: Nokia Ovi, Smart Communication, Havaianas, Ultracraft, 1st Rafting Adventures, Cong. Rolando "Klarex" Uy, and the Cagayan de Oro City Govt. Among the minor sponsors were: Syntactics, OLX Classified Ads,, Province of Misamis Oriental, Magnet Advertising, Del Monte, The Site, Majesty Sales Center, Clara's Shoppe, RG&K Construction, Pagua's Cottages, The Companies, Asterisk Event and Communications, and Loretos Bar and Grill.

The theme of this event is "Mindanao Bag-uhon ang Panan-aw". This as a 2 day event, actually. The first day took place on a Saturday, and the next one happened on the following day. The main event happened on the first day, while the second day, which is either the City Tour or the White Water Rafting Adventure depending on the package chosen, would be an opportunity for fellow bloggers to get along and know each other better.

The first day was packed with a lot of lectures from different personalities--both from the political field, and the blogging community. The morning was filled with talks about how significant the bloggers' impact is on the image of a hometown--in our case, Mindanao. Important people who attended and gave a talk were Mayor Tinnex Jaraula, DCM Leslie Bassett, Atty. Adel Tamano, and Agusan Rep. Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza. Mr. Bloggie Robillo also gave the introductory presentation for the summit. At the end of the presentation, he showed an inspiring scene of the map of Mindanao with all the major locations hopefully mushroomed with Blogger Groups on the area.

Right after lunch break, another set of lectures were delivered by different blogging personalities who are successful in the blogging industry. Among these were Ms. Aileen Apolo, Mrs. Janette Toral, and Mr. Lyle Santos. Then after that, updates about what bloggers from the different areas have been doing were presented in the most likely fassion. First to deliver were the Davao Bloggers, then the GenSan, Zamboanga, and then CDO. I can't jot down down as of the moment the details of the lectures and the presentation on this post. Probably on future posts.

Overall, the event was fun. I learned a lot from the lectures. My urge to write up more about my beloved Mindanao was hoisted on top of the flagpole. The lectures about monitizing through blogging was very informative. And that was just probably half of the iceberge for me. The other half would constitute the meeting of a lot of fellow bloggers. Literally, everyone in the venue were bloggers; except of course for some media men who came and a few more sponsors to the event. Among the people I have personally met were Davao bloggers: Kevin Paquet, Ms. Dulce Lada, Tammy Sulit, and Pearl Dy. From Iligan is Mrs. Arlene Collado. Here in Cagayan de Oro are the ever accomodating: Mrs. Phebie Anne Normandia, Eleanor Aguilar, and Elaine Pagunsan. These are the lovely ladies I got to be with throughout the whole event. Other CDO bloggers I met are friendly bloggers: Jane, Pangit ster, Ms. Chique Montes (the lively organizer of the event), Shane, etc. I will edit this post in the future with the links to their blog site as soon as I find everyone on the web. There were still others I could not get the names because I haven’t look them up yet on various networking sites. I will add them to this list when I can.

I will probably disclose the details of the event and my experiences on it in another article. As of now I guess this will be enough. Links will come later.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3 to be Held in Cagayan de Oro City

Calling all bloggers from all over Mindanao! There will be a summit to be held tomorrow here in Cagayan de Oro City. Attached below the photo is a press release from the CDO Bloggers group explaining the details of the event. If you wish to join the event, the details on how to join is found at There's still time to join the event. So, if you're just around the city, feel free to join. Cheers!

CDO Bloggers Group Hosts Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3

The Cagayan de Oro Bloggers (CDO Bloggers) group is set to play host to the Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3, which will be held on October 24, 2009. With the theme, “Mindanao: Bag-Uhon Ang Panan-aw,” the MBS 3 aims to uphold the beauty and strength of the island and to expunge the negative notions the world has about it.

(Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines – October 21, 2009) – It’s all systems go for the Cagayan de Oro Bloggers (CDO Bloggers) as they play host to the much-awaited Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3, an annual gathering of Mindanao-based bloggers, IT industry experts, community leaders and new media advocates, on October 24, 2009 at Pearlmont Inn, Limketkai Drive, Cagayan de Oro City. Roughly 300 bloggers are expected to attend this year’s summit.

With the theme, “Mindanao: Bag-Uhon Ang Panan-aw,” (Changing The Way People See Mindanao) the event aims to uphold the beauty and strength of Mindanao, to highlight the diverse cultures and fascinating tourist spots that are uniquely Mindanao and to provide a platform where bloggers and other new media practitioners can discuss concerns related to Mindanao – all with the help of new and emerging technologies.

“Mindanao is the home of everything fascinating or in bloggers’ lingo – bloggable. Through the Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3, it is the hope of the CDO Bloggers, along with our partners and generous sponsors, that we listen to knowledgeable resource persons, meet other Mindanaoan bloggers, share and maximize all of our skills and resources and adopt tried and tested practices that can help us to fully promote Mindanao and for us to become better bloggers as well,” emphasized Chiq Montes, president of CDO Bloggers.

“Of course, we also want all of the participants to have a good time and experience the sights and sounds of Cagayan de Oro,” Montes added.

Montes said that apart from Mindanaoan bloggers, the summit will also see the participation of some bloggers from Luzon and Visayas.

Expected to grace the summit is United States Embassy’s new Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Bassett, Atty. Adel Tamano, Agusan Lone District Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Tinnex Jaraula.

Considered unprecedented in the Philippine blogosphere, a top ranking United States Embassy dignitary is set to deliver the keynote address. Bassett’s trip to CDO will be her first trip to Mindanao since assuming office in June. She previously served as DCM in Mexico.

“We are deeply honored. We’re certain that the summit participants will be delighted to meet her and we can’t wait for her to see our beautiful city,” Montes said.

Other speakers during the whole-day affair include Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Tinnex Jaraula, Agusan Lone District Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza and Atty. Adel Tamano.

Google’s Philippine representative Aileen Apolo, whose talk will focus on beginners, Digital Filipino’s Janette Toral, who will discuss blog advertising and Lyle Santos, who will talk about making money online will also be present. Representatives of other blogger groups including those in Davao City, General Santos City and Zamboanga will also give updates.

After the summit proper, participants have the choice of joining either the city tour (Xavier University Museum, Cathedral, Divine Mercy Shrine, Opol Aviary, Limketkai Mall) or the whitewater rafting adventure.

Also happening on October 24, right after the MBS 3, is the Philippine Blog Awards – Mindanao awarding ceremonies.

CDO Bloggers, Inc., a group duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is the lead organizer of this year’s Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3. Previous summits took place in Davao City and General Santos City.

The Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3 is generously supported by SMART Telecommunications, Nokia, Syntactics, Inc., STI, Rafting Adventure Philippines,, Majesty Sales Center, Havaianas Philippines, OLX Philippines Free Classifieds, Clara Shoppe, ASTERISK Events and Communications, RG & K Construction, Paguia’s Cottages, The Companies, The Site, Spruce, The City Government of Cagayan de Oro, Office of CDO First District Rep. Rolando “Klarex” Uy, SM City Cagayan de Oro, Ultra Craft Advertising Corporation, Magnet Advertising, Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental and the Mindanao Bloggers community. Media partners include Papa Ardie’s Concepz, STI, ABS CBN, MOR 91.9 and HOT FM 106.3.

For more information about the Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3, log on to

About CDO Bloggers

CDOBloggers or Cagayan de Oro Bloggers, Inc. is a duly SEC-registered organization that promotes Cagayan de Oro through blogging. Among the group’s goals are to create impact in society through blogging, to help promote Mindanao to the world as a bustling and peaceful land, to promote Cagayan De Oro City and Kagay-anons around the world with a sense of pride and to use blogging as a media platform.

The CDO Bloggers group is the main organizer of the Mindanao Bloggers Summit 3 (MBS 3). For more information about MBS 3, log on to

For more information about CDO Bloggers, visit or send email to

About Mindanao Bloggers

Mindanao Bloggers aims to unify the island through this exciting new medium — the way of the blog — thereby promoting deeper understanding of our different cultures and beliefs. Thus, it is hoped that this community blog will help in presenting to the world at large the true beauty of the Philippine South, as well as the marvelous diversity of the peoples of Mindanao. For more information about Mindanao Bloggers, visit

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ASTERISK Events and Communications
Mobile number: (+63) 919 238 6575 / (+63) 922 478 5218
Email address:

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Nation's Answer to Ondoy's Visit

After the onslaught of the tropical depression Ondoy, people from the Luzon area have been preoccupied on helping each other out, sending relief goods to the areas severely hit by the storm, and sending out rescue teams to areas where people are stranded or paralyzed. Never has the country seen such a tragic wreck for decades (as I can strongly remember) caused by a severe flood in just one hit of the typhoon. With this heart-breaking devastation inflicted upon the country, people not only from the Luzon area are affected by this tragedy. The whole Philippines for that matter was dumb struck by the unforeseen calamity that would cripple the lives or living of millions of Filipinos in the northern part of the country. Not only that, people from other parts of the country most likely have relatives or friends living or temporarily staying in Luzon and thus would be deeply affected as much as the people living in the areas of calamity. It is really depressing.

With the whole country experiencing this distress, people from all over the country are flared to act against the misfortune the typhoon Ondoy has left on the soil of this nation. I strongly believe that the Visayas and the Mindanao region have done their part. In Cagayan de Oro City alone, I can see streamers found in key areas of the city saying that people in the area could donate stuff through these stations. In the university that I go to, they have this fund raising campaign named Oplan Ondoy. Anyone in the community can donate cash for the flood victims through the university's savings account. For those interested in donating cash, they can deposit it through the Xavier University savings account number 9331-0133-63 (BPI Division Branch), or they can look for Kris S. Buntag at the university's KKP office. To contact them through the phone, they can be reached through the landlines: 858-3116/72-3116.

People from all over the country are trying to fight their way against the ravage that the typhoon Ondoy has left on its path. People from my community are doing their part . Together, the whole Philippines can rise up from this nightmare.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Travelling to Iligan City by Night

I never thought I might be travelling to Iligan City by night time so unexpectedly. Okay, here's my recount of our unexpected trip to Iligan City:

Me and one of my bands were given a slot to play at Iligan City's National High School which organized a gig to be held inside the campus. This was probably also in celebration of the city's fiesta the following day. The group traveled at the eve of the city's fiesta. This would fall at Monday, September 28, 2009. To get there, we took a bus at Bulua Terminal here in Cagayan de Oro City. There were a lot of people at the bus terminal during this time. That was to be expected because of the upcoming fiesta happening the following day. Because of that, we have to fall in line which stretched all the way to the bus terminal entrance. But it didn't take us too long. The line moved constantly because each bus took around 15 minutes or less to alternate. Finally, passed 6pm, the group was able to hop in to one of the buses. They have nice buses, by the way. For a non-stop trip to Iligan City, you only get to pay only Php50.00. And this bus is already air-conditioned.

The trip took around 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was already dark, so all we could see are shadows of trees and lights from the houses by the street. I could see a hint of development from the municipalities we happened to pass by. One of these is El Salvador. For most of the trip, we enjoyed watching the movie that was played in the bus. We then arrived at Iligan's bus terminal at around 8pm.

Outside the bus station, there are already taxi's and public utility vehicles waiting to fetch passengers. Of course, because the group were in such a short notice and were not able to prepare more than enough money for the trip, we took the public utility vehicle called multicab in the local term. The fare costs Php5.00 for students and senior citizens. After 5 minutes or so, we were able to take the first glimpse of the city's vibe. For a fiesta, I thought that the streets were a bit quiet below the usual atmosphere found on a fiesta. It was still the eve, one of my friends said, so probably, the crowd wouldn't be until tomorrow.

Our guide (our guitarist's friend) took us at a stop and lead us to walk at some few turns which eventually lead us to the venue where we're going to play for that night. We were well accommodated. With the help of another friend, we were lead inside the venue without any hassle. Reaching the gym where there was a band already playing, we were given dinner by the organizers and was informed of our slot. After our performance, which was already around 10:30pm or so, it was time for us to go home.

We arrived at the bus station a few minutes before 12pm. The next bus is to be scheduled at 1am. I sipped coffee while waiting, while my friend ate. Aired on the TV was the news about the devastation inflicted by the typhoon Ondoy in the Luzon area. During this time, my friend and I were discussing about this issue.

At around 12:30am or so, the bus arrived earlier than we expected. There were a number of passengers during that time. So what happened was some of the passengers including our group have to either join the trip but stand, or wait for the next bus which is scheduled to arrive at 3am. We decided to go on. For the first half of the trip, I was standing while my friends were already able to find seats. Eventually, I was able to find one while a few more passengers started getting off. We reached Cagayan de Oro City at around 2am plus. At around this time, taxis are available. But if you guys are short of money, you can always take a motorela towards the city. For 5 persons, we were able to negotiate a rela for only Php70.00. But they usually charge at around Php90.00 to Php100.00. But I think that is too much.

The whole trip to Iligan City was satisfactory. The streets were quite peaceful. And there were not too much hassle; except for the part where we were forced to stand inside the bus on our way home. But other than that, everything was fine. No heat--atmosphere was cool. And with the right person, we were unlikely to get lost on our way.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fishing Lights at Dawn in Marvilla Beach Resort

Recently, I found my way to the beach overnight. There was a Community Building activity set up by our course over the weekend, and this was held at the beach--Marvilla Beach Resort to be exact. Some of the guys stayed at the beach for the night. And so I joined them. It's one of the best things about living here in Mindanao--overnights at the beach, coupled with a few drinks, and just enjoying the atmosphere of the dark, cold, and windy night. Security wouldn't be that much of an issue either because there are guards present inside the resort. Common sense is just what is needed--you don't want to leave the cottage without anyone attending to the group's valuables. Anyway, I spent my night at the beach, and, as usual, no sleep for me.

It was around 4:20am in the morning when, in order to knock off my drowsiness, I decided to take a walk at the shore just inside the resort's premises. Standing there, when it felt like everyone in the country is still asleep except for a few people at the beach resort, I noticed these small lights scattered about not too far from the shore. Then it came to me that the source of these small lights are fishing boats. I got myself caught up in an amazement for a few moments there. That early and that dark fishermen are already on the sea fishing armed only with their nets and a lamp. That to me was amazing. I couldn't imagine myself out there floating in the sea that dark. But then I thought, they wouldn't feel alone because there were several other boats scattered around with their lights on.

After they get their catch, these fishermen would go back to the shore (and it's still dark), toss their nets on the sand, and start plucking out the fishes that are wriggling their way out from the tangled net.

From here you can see the industry of these fishermen.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Durian, Featured Fruit of Mindanao

Durian--the sound of this name brings about different reactions from different people. Some would turn their faces away nauseated, while others would be drooling, craving to get their hands on the fruit. Today, I had Durian at breakfast, and I enjoyed it very much. And so I decided to make a blog about it. It's one of the highlights of Mindanao, anyway.

Delicious Durian Fruit

This photo in courtesy of

So, what do we know about Durian? Well, we here in Mindanao know for sure that Durian is quite abundant in many provinces and cities here, if not all. Here in Cayan de Oro alone, one will see numbers of vendors around the city selling Durian either in fruit stands, or in moving vans. (Yes, many vendors here in Cagayan sell Durian on their vehicles. It's a common sight here in the city. And you best watch out for these when you're around here. These are taken fresh from their farms.) Another interesting fact for people not familiar with this is that the Durian capital of the Philippines (correct me if I'm wrong) is located here in Mindanao--Davao! I don't know if it's the huge numbers of Durian that the city holds which gives them that title, or if it's because of the quality of their produce. Does anybody know? Tell us.

Throughout the years, this name has brought a lot of controversies all over the country. People would be arguing as to whether it's more repelling than irresistible. It even has had it's taste of discrimination. Many times, I would hear people complain about its scent. Five seconds that thorny fruit sits on one side of the room, then someone would eventually say, Baho-a ana uy! (Damn, that smells!). As for me, I would start to look for the fruit. It's not everyday that I get a taste of this fruit. It's kind of like a drug to me, actually.

I don't know about you guys, but I think it's one of the tastiest fruit I have ever savored in my entire life. It has that exquisite taste that not even it's scent can deny. Maybe what people said were true after all, "It only smells bad before you've tasted it." But once you get a taste of that wonder that has engulfed Mindanao, you'll even steal my share of the fruit.

Some people dare not to catch sight of Durian, they are afraid they might scent it accidentally. Sometimes, in my opinion, I just think these people are missing a portion of living their life. If only they could get to taste the fruit without the pre-notions of all the stereotypes about it, then I think they might be able to enjoy the experience and crave for more. But then again, as they say, people have their own tastes, so there's no doubt that some people still would not like the fruit as crazy as I do.

One interesting fact about Durian: I just heard that in a Durian farm, these trees are fenced around. This is to prevent people from accidentally being hitted by a dropping Durian. Thinking about it, it makes good sense. Have you ever held a whole Durian in your hands before? Imagine a Durian 15 ft. high being pulled strong and fast by gravity right when you are just passing by under the tree. klfjalkfl . . . I couldn't even try to imagine what it would be like.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Mindanao: A Safe Place, or Not?

Just a few days ago, I came across a post on a blog by an American expat who is now living in Davao City. His article talked about how people are, as I suspected, mislead to think that living here in Mindanao was a pretty stupid thing to do and that we're as good as dead while standing on this island. At first, I wasn't surprised by this notion because from time to time I do hear about instances on a number of people thinking otherwise about the safety in Mindanao. But as I continued reading his story, and after a couple of skim through some of the comments, I found it very ridiculous of a thought that there are still a number of people who gets so paranoid even by just hearing the name Mindanao. On his article, I read that one of his close friends even got to the extent of bad-mouthing him on an online forum after knowing that Bob (the author of the article) decided to live permanently in Davao City, which I think, by the way, is one of the best places to live here in Mindanao (and the whole Philippines for that matter). I was quite surprised by those kinds of reactions. This was worse than I expected. People have been trying to discourage people from coming here. When somebody says, "Hey, there was this thing that I was blabber blabber blabber and I was thinking that yada yada. . . blah blah . . Mindanao and . ." And then all of a sudden, "Huh?! What?! Are you out of your mind?? There's this friggin this and friggin that and . . you're a crazy ass stupid . ." Now this, all the more, hyped me up to continue writing on this blog. So the question, is Mindanao a safe place?

Funny military
*Photo in courtesy of

There are couple of points to take note for those people who react like the air here in Mindanao is poison. First, and Bob pointed out on this very significant fact, those people who were so concerned about their loved ones coming to Mindanao have never ever set foot on Mindanao's soil in the first place. Well, of course, they hear a lot of things about Mindanao through the media and other people; but the media most of the time only announce those things which are quite intruiging for them to be able to sell their story. Those people should have a good ground for telling their loved ones or other people all the negative misconceptions about Mindanao, otherwise, they're just giving the place a bad name and depriving their loved ones of a really wonderful experience. Why have I said that? Well, let me just give you a few list of what those people would be missing if they don't try out Mindanao: Firstly, Camiguin is in Mindanao, a must visit paradise. I can't even start writing down about what makes Camiguin such an amazing place because that would span a number of pages. Second, are you looking for incredible surfing spots? Then you'll miss Siargao if you cross-out Mindanao from your list, not to mention their becharming beaches. Of course, Davao City would be left out if you wouldn't be considering Mindanao; and that would be a pity because not only are you smothering youself from an air full of unforgettable experiences (you can take a look of what I mean by checking out the list under Blogroll beside this column), but also you would be missing the thousand reasons why you would be tempted to live in Davao permanently. In Malaybalay, they have this well known Kaamulan festival where many ethnic groups from all over the Bukidnon province parade on the streets of Malaybalay and showcase their beautiful and colorful culture. In my Cagayan de Oro, well, both foreigners and locals alike flock our raging rivers almost everyday (if not everyday) for that irreplacable thrill packed along the adventures of white water rafting. And of course, there are still a lot of spectacular things I failed to mention here. These are just some of the things that I'm familiar with. If you know other things besides this, I recommend you to list them down as comments below and come back to this line afterwards.

Okay, some of the people might have grounds for fearing to come here in Mindanao: there are a couple of bombings, kidnappings, and military crossfires between the rebel groups reported on the news. But it doesn't mean that these things happen all over Mindanao. In fact, as Bob also pointed out, these usually happen on marginal areas here in Mindanao. Remember, Mindanao is such a large place. And a huge part of it is completely safe. It's a no-brainer to realize this. Okay, yes, we heard about a bombing incident in Sasa, Davao some time ago. But that was just a one time event. After that incident, the security level in Davao was heightened. Until now, you can still see these diligent military personnel scattered around the city. In fact, I think Davao may even be one of the safest places to live nowadays here in the Philippines. Should I give credit to the Davao Death Squad for that, or no? Okay, I don't want to spark up a controversy now, so I guess I'll leave that out for another post.

Another incident would be the recent bombing in Bukidnon. In my opinion, that incident most likely happened on an area far enough from the city for people not to be alarmed about it because none of my friends living there even made a big deal about it.

These things happened, yes, and so did the infamous 9/11 incident with the World Trade Center in New York City and the one at the Pentagon in Washington. My point is, it would be unfair to brand Mindanao a dangerous place or a warzone when in fact these things happen all over the world also.

For the full details about Bob's article, check out this page:

So, is Mindanao a safe place to live? Yes, definitely. I think some of the people who object to this are just over-reacting or perhaps they are just too ignorant to be able to say those things about Mindanao. And would I rather live anywhere else than Mindanao? Definitely, no. Well, I could travel once in a while, but nothing would replace this paradise which I have here that is Mindanao.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nature Tripping at the Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village

Gardens of Malasag Entrance SignSometimes, when the taste of the city starts to become too much for my senses, what I do is loosen up a bit and go to some place that cradles me back to my roots, some place that invokes the word earth. A place where I could just sit back and say, "Wow, this Earth is beautiful." A place that deceives you into believing that you're in a vacation and that there are no classes or work the following day. One such place here in Cagayan de Oro City would be the fresh and green Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village.

All you nature lovers out there, I know you're expecting most places in the world to have at least one ecological park or anything similar to that. So here's one here in Cagayan de Oro City.

The Gardens of Malasag is one of the spots here in Cagayan which is constantly promoted by the government. Go to the City Tourism Showhouse, and you're likely to be pointed towards this place (The Gardens of Malasag is currently 2nd in the list at Cagayan de Oro City's official website), and for a good reason.

Cagayan de Oro City Tourism Showhouse
Photo in courtesy of

One Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a visit to this getaway. To get there, I have to take two rides from the city: a jeepney ride towards Malasag which costs me only P10.00, and another ride by motorcycle (called habal-habal in the dialect) going uphill (locals there say fare only costs P6.00, but I usually give them P10.00).

Just one advice when riding the habal-habal, take note of the muffler's location and go down the opposite side--after that ride, I had a minor accident wherein my right leg touched the burning muffler. It was painful, of course. After that, lesson learned.

On the entrance, you have to pay for the entrance fee. The prices will be attached at the end of this article.

The first thing that greeted me at the entrance were the friendly smiles of the natives dressed in their colorful costumes, and a music so beautiful played by some natives using flutes and percussions. The music sounded so attached to these beautiful people's culture, and at the same time it felt like it reminded me of the presence of nature. I believe in music culture they call this World Music. Below are some of the natives parading inside the venue's streets. They do this around 4-5pm everyday. Not all of them were taken though--I was only using a phone camera while taking this.

Malasag Ethnic Performers

Some Observations
The place showcases some of the country's resources that affirms the country's richness. From plants to trees, butterflies to birds, from lizards to several types of snakes, and other several types of animals—you'll find them here.

Of course, how would I forget the beautiful ethnic groups that are living there to showcase the rich and colorful culture that Mindanao nests even before the foreign colonizers of Philippines' history has reached these shores. Ethnic groups such as the Subanons, the Higaunons, the Talaandigs, and many more are very welcoming. You are free to go and make some interviews, check out their livelihood products, arts, or just have a chat with them. I myself had conducted a couple of interviews with the different tribes in the place during different times, and still they remain as hospitable as they were the first time.

Having mentioned about their livelihood products, yes, the place is packed with souvenirs. And I would recommend every tourist or local visitors to set aside some extra cash and grab some souvenirs when you get there. It's worth the few pesos. As for their price, well the price varies depending on the material. But I would say a P100.00 is more than enough for a small souvenir that would last a lifetime of wonderful memories on your visit to that place.


Entrance FeeDayNight
Swimming Pool
Camping Fee: (Overnight stay at the campground)
Children or Adult100.00 per person
Fixing Fee or Tent (irrespective of size)100.00 per tent

These are the prices as of the time this article is written. Prices may slightly change any time after this, but usually it won't be as much as P5.00. During my elementary days (that was more than 10 years ago), entrance fee for children was P15.00. Eight years after that, it only increased P5.00.

The place also has cottages available for people planning to stay there for the night. For the rates, check out this site:

Just Hanging Out at the Restocafe

Higaunon Restocafe inside Gardens of MalasagNow for most of the part, just staying at the Higaunon Restocafe may be the only thing I will be doing when I come back there. The view there is just amazing. A beautiful sketch of the Macajalar Bay caresses my eyes as I sit there, just gazing, wishing that the moment will never end. It's a beautiful place for friends, families, or couples to hang-out. I really recommend the place. At the same time, while enjoying the view, you guys can munch on their menu which they serve at reasonable prices. For warm afternoons, they have fruit shakes. For the other extreme, I believe they serve coffee (or beer perhaps). The restocafe closes at 10pm on every day of the week. So you could plan to have your dinners there.

Overview spot of Macajalar Bay at Higaunon Restocafe
A magnificent view of Macajalar Bay and Camiguin Island.
Overview spot of Macajalar Bay at Higaunon Restocafe

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Monday, July 27, 2009

State Of the Nation Address--No Classes?

Today is the State Of the Nation Address of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. People of the Philippines, have you watched it? I haven’t. I know I’m supposed to, but because of other pressures from school, I missed the chance to do so.

So, what do the people do here in Cagayan de Oro City? I’m pretty sure that some people in the political arena were tied up to their seats listening to what President Arroyo has to say. Most of the adults probably were, as of that moment, preoccupied of looking for a television to watch where they could listen to the SONA being aired locally. The question of, how much people were watching, that I could not tell. The last time I saw people getting interviewed by a local daily news program here in the city, many people don’t have much to say about the President’s SONA during that time. But there were many other people who gave their comments about the event; even some students.

Having said that, I myself as a student have observed that many students (I’m not saying most) have been so far apathetic about such events. The only question that comes into their minds would be (and I admit I’m part of this society sometimes), "Okay, so are there any classes today?" Funny as it is, but, yes, sometimes (or probably many times) students like me do tend to be that apathetic towards the Country’s events such as these. But who could blame us? Sometimes, it’s just so realistic to believe that as students, we can’t do anything to serve the purpose of SONA (whatever that is) or anything for that matter to be able to help the country by listening to the moment’s State of the Nation Address. (Pardon my immaturity, but please just let me live my age for a moment. *grin* ) So, what do we kids in the city have to say? Well simply, COOL, NO CLASSES AGAIN!

As students, times like these could be compared to Manny Pacquiao’s bouts. That’s not because the streets during that time are typically deserted (and I doubt it will ever be with a SONA), but more likely because it gives us that feeling that someone important (and yes, Manny Pacquiao has somehow been considered now as someone important) is on the spotlight at the moment and that somehow gives us the feeling that the streets are deserted because we know that a lot of people will be watching the airtime. At that moment, we students (not everyone, of course) are then triggered to think about what we can do for that day. If classes were suspended and a lot of students were not aware of this and were able to go to school at that day, usually, students would flood internet cafés (for the younger generation that is). Other students would go to places like Park Café, Dunkin Donuts (referring to students from a particular university located at Divisoria near to these establishments), or malls and hang out with their friends. And of course, others would go home.

So, have any of these taken place this day’s State Of the Nation Address? Well, that would be if classes were suspended today. And that would have been a blast. Too bad the priests in this university didn’t give us the chance to enjoy today’s event. Haha. But yeah, I was just trying to illustrate here what could have happened on a day like today, and if classes were indeed suspended in timing with the event.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Unwind . . Get a Dose of Music @ Gigs

Music—the language of the world. No city in the world (or any place for that matter) can do away with it. This would neatly bring me to one of my pastimes here in Ekim of Kaa;pinthe city.

Nights could never have been more boring (for people around my age bracket, that is) without getting that dose of escape brought about by immersing oneself into music. And nothing could be more enjoyable than to sink into the sound around all those lights, drowning volume, and a lot of other people who seem to be enjoying it as much as you do.
Are you in to bands? Do you occasionally go to local gigs in your hometown to check out what some of the bands there have to offer for that night? Well, if you enjoy doing that, then you're never going to miss home when you're here in Cagayan de Oro City.

Cagayan de Oro City occasionally gives birth to young talented Guitarslocal individuals who form a group out of nowhere, with their own sets of reasons, and contribute to the flame that's sparking up the city's life. Some of them form bands, and those bands yet form another group which we know of as a Music group. Lucky for me, for I am a music lover, they give me yet another reason to stay alive at night.

Gigs—in the local lingo we call it tukar. Gigs aren't new in the city's premises. Typical Corridor GigThey have been in existence for as long as 8 years ago, as far as I can remember. But I'm pretty sure it dates back farther than that; I have witnessed that part of the city's scene only 8 years ago, and I was amazed at what I saw back then.

Gigs that happen in the city don't follow a fixed schedule and they don't have a fixed venue. What usually happens A Typical scene at Punchbowl Gigsis people get information by word of mouth. Some would also distribute flyers or post posters about the upcoming event usually a week before it happens. Lately, some of these local music groups put up websites that contain information about that group and their schedule of gigs. Two of the groups I know that have done this include Corridor Music Group and SLAM (the last time I checked, the latter doesn't seem to be that active anymore). On their websites, you'll see on their friend's list the bands that are regularly performing for them.

Some of the bands that made it to the mainstream started from these small gigs. And I tell you, how they play prior their way to the pop scene isn't much different compared to when Photobucketthey were still playing at these small gigs. And before you get me wrong, these guys still play at local gigs. (I was afraid I might give the impression that those guys are bloated enough for them not to play at local gigs anymore). Almost all the guys I know of who play at local gigs play without a charge. The organizer most likely give them free beers and stuff, but fees other than, you won't hear that from any of them. Those guys are pure music enthusiasts; they perform because they love to play music.

Here are some of the notable bands that made it to the mainstream: (Click on their names to open a window directing to their homepages)

and a lot more.

So if you are somewhere around the city, watch out for the events happening for the night. You won't regret spending P50 - P100 for a night floating on music. These guys are just amazing.

*First, second and fourth photos in courtesy of Pancho Trinidad.
*The rest of the photos in courtesy of Corridor Music Group.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Enjoying Kwek-Kwek on the Streets

Enjoying life in the city can be as simple as eating fishballs on the sidewalk. PhotobucketI used to do that a lot on my elementary days. For a peso, you already have 4 little fishballs. But a more enjoyable treat nowadays, and it has already become a favorite in the city, is munching on kwek-kwek. Yes. Kwek-kwek! For people inside the country, yes, we have kwek-kwek here in Cagayan de Oro; for people outside the country, I introduce you to kwek-kwek.

Kwek-kwek is a local treat not only present here in the city, but scattered around the country as well. It is sold in moving stalls put up by local entrepreneurs around the city after the sun sets. Lately, I’ve been seeing already a number of mini-stores selling kwek-kwek as their main product. Kwek-kwekThe delicacy is made up of either chicken egg or duck egg coated with a mixture of flour, baking powder, water, salt, and pepper. After which, it is then deep fried. When already cooked, it is either served with vinegar, gravy, or a special sauce made by the vendor. Diced cucumbers are also available for those who want to top their kwek-kwek with a bit of veggies.

One of the biggest factors that make kwek-kwek sell is its affordability. Depending on the vendor, it’s either sold at P10.00 or P8.00. Another factor that made it sell is it being sold with drinks (soft drink or buko juice) that ranges from P5.00 to P7.00. It’s really very affordable. With P25.00, I feel like I’m already having dinner. I guess that’s also one of the factors why many people enjoy eating kwek-kwek. It’s really amusing seeing yourself being able to buy a lot with just a little amount of money.

I don’t know about everyone else, everyone has distinct tastes; but I really enjoy the feeling of eating out on the streets at night with that cold ambiance and all those colors that light up the streets. So if you enjoy that, too, then I guess you’ll enjoy your stay here in this city.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cooling Down at The Malls in CDO

Of course, how could a city be a city without a mall? There are a few exceptions though, but a city just doesn’t seem to be complete without a mall, right? Anyone beg to differ?

Scattered around the city are the malls people in the city herd in order for them to do the usual activities that people do in any mall on any country—activities such as doing the grocery, Gaisano Cityshopping, watching movies, conducting business meetings, or anything on their to-do lists. There are currently 3 major malls standing around the city. This was formerly 4, but unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, it is now reduced to 3 because one of the malls (Ororama Mega Mall) got burned down last year. The first mall built in the city is Gaisano City. Now it has an annex just across the street where Gaisano City was built, joined together by an overpass. And they named it Gaisano Mall. The next mall stood up was Limketkai Mall. Formerly, this mall used to be open air. Only the outlets inside were airconditioned. Now, the whole mall is fully airconditioned. RobinsonsMoving on, the third mall that sprouted on Cagayan soil is the ever present SM City Mall. As being the mall on top of the hill, people who are headed towards the airport or people who just came from the airport make this their pit stop. And last but not the least, the latest mall (which is really more like an extension to Limketkai Mall) that made it's way in the city, is the young Robinsons Mall, the mall that houses one of the largest grocery store in the city. It also has a number of outlets inside its premises. These outlets range from cellular phone stores to stores that sell shirts and jeans, and from fastfood diners to coffee shops.

On a Saturday, you’ll typically see groups of teenagers scattered about inside the malls. There’s this, sort of, schedule on who goes to the mall on a particular day in a week. On Sundays, this would be family day—the scene inside the mall would most likely be groups of families strolling around. Limketkai MallFrom Mondays to Fridays, malls would have from a few people to moderate people—mostly college students and businessmen.

Back in high school, I and my friends used to go to malls on a Saturday to go “bird hunting.” By bird hunting I mean spotting cute and gorgeous girls coming from different campuses, tossing their hair like shampoo commercial models, putting that glow on their faces as if each of them are actresses from different TV programs. They would just melt our hearts out. But of course, that was before. I barely do that now, or maybe, I might not have even done it anymore. It’s not appropriate for my age anymore. Today would be younger generation’s time to do that. About what my generation does now, that would be the content for one of my next posts on this blog. Going back to the topic, yes, I don’t do it anymore, and neither do my friends, but the same rule still applies. SM CDO alsoAt times when I go to the malls on Saturdays and see all those young teenagers scattering about in the mall, I get reminded of those days when I still do those stuff.

Nowadays, every time I feel stressed from all the headaches that school gives us, I would think of having a stroll at one of the malls. A sip of coffee would be fine. Or they have these pearl coolers sold around the mall. That would be a good choice, too. Doing this for about an hour or an hour and a half would be enough to cool down my brain from thinking too much about school work.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Strolling Around Night Café at Cagayan de Oro City

It was a Friday night, and I just woke up from an exhausting day. Earlier in the morning, me and my partner in my final project two semesters ago (1st sem, 2008-2009) just passed our final output to our instructor. It was a product of a couple of months with sleepless nights trying to make our computer program to work. And it was hell. I have to ceaselessly read a whole book for two weeks straight trying to learn a computer language that I have encountered for the first time. It was like torture; considering we were given a time period enough only for us students to learn the advance topics in database that we were covering in class during that time; that is in my opinion of course (my apologies to readers not in the computer science field). Anyway, as I said before, I woke up that Friday night exhausted from all the things I’ve been through during that semester. I got up, took a drink from the fridge, and felt like I wanted to treat myself out. I wasn’t thinking of anything fancy; I just thought of giving myself a break from all the stresses I’ve been having for the past few months without spending a lot of money. I looked at the calendar, which was hanged just behind the fridge and remembered, hey, it’s a Friday night. How about strolling around Night Café?

night-cafe1-1-galleryfull.jpgFriday and Saturday nights have never been as alive as before. People of different ages and different walks of life have been flocking the streets of Divisoria ever since the streets were opened for the weekend Night Cafés. Various stalls are put up by local entrepreneurs. These stalls sell products ranging from food, to bags, to shoes, shirts, accessories, and a lot more. And they sell it a very affordable price—a hundred Pesos can buy you two decent short pants (by the time I’m writing this, the exchange rate from Philippine Pesos to U.S. Dollars is Php48.149 = $1.000). Here you’ll find everything under the sun, well in our case, moon. At one end, you’ll find a variety of food from a number of diners. Barbeque at night cafeTheir menu varies from stall to stall. One stall offers assorted barbeques, while another serve exquisite dishes such as calamari, smoked bangus, kinilaw, and a lot more. It’s a food haven out there at night, not to mention the open air city ambiance that the place gives. And if you’re not in to open air but are looking for some place air-conditioned, then there are always the all time favorite fast-food franchises around the area. Also, if you’re in for some booze, they always have that around the area. Check the nearest stall to see if they offer some.

Activities at the Night Café are not only limited to food, accessories, and the likes. There are also a lot of happenings aside from those. One I failed to mention was the nightly live band happening at the city Kiosk. While people, families, and other groups have their appetizing dinners, they are also serenaded by the city’s local bands. And if you’re lucky, you might end up jamming with the country’s top bands such as Bamboo, and the likes.

So if you’re somewhere around the city for a couple of days, make sure you reach at least a Friday or start your week here on a Saturday.

Here are two more photos taken during the Night Cafes:

This photo is in courtesy of jarqz at
Night CafeThis is a typical scene at the Night Cafe. People and booze get along quite well. In addition to that, one doesn't have to worry too much on security—police and other security personnel are deployed everywhere, scattered around the area. Although you still do have to be careful like we're always expected to. So as a tip: have all the fun that you can have, but be cautious as always. Below are stalls of diners. Families, groups of friends, or collegues usually dine here enjoying the atmosphere, and most especially the reasonable prices.

This photo is in courtesy of jarqz at

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Early Morning Walk at Cagayan de Oro's Beach

Waking up early at dawn, at around 5:30 in the morning, I found myself outside my grandparents’ house wondering what I could do on an early morning without any computer to tap at or anyone to talk to. It was still cold, and the sky just turned from purple to red. Standing outside, I took a deep breath to savor that fresh morning air that one could only scent during that time of the day. The air was fresh . . . and kind of salty. That sort of gave me an idea on what to do that morning. How about taking a walk at the beach?

From where I was standing, the beach was just a good 2.6 km away. I got my running shoes in my room that day, and there was nothing else to do that morning. So, what was I waiting for?

Beaches are one of the places where people love to go during a hot summer day. Families, friends . . . most often than not, beaches are almost always part of their list. And yes, Cagayan de Oro City has beaches to fill in that list.

Going to the beach during the day, usually around lunchtime, is when most of the locals and tourist would be most convenient to go. But during those jogging activities that I have had, I would recommend experiencing the beach on a pristine morning just about when the sun would pull itself up the mountain looking at the East direction when facing the water. It’s an experience one would incessantly savor. And pretty stress relieving, too.

Below is a photo taken from the beach in Opol, Misamis Oriental, which is just a part of Cagayan de Oro. This was taken when the sun was already up though. Click on the photo and it will open a new tab leading to the original website where I got this photo.
Sunrise at Opol Beach
This photo is in courtesy of

Here is a better scene of that sunrise I was talking about. This was taken around 5:30 in the morning at Marvilla Beach Resort.

Sunrise at Marvilla

What I usually do after a brief jog going to the beach is once I get there, I would go on an extra walk without my shoes on. Feeling the sand beneath my feet, inspiring that fresh, dawn breeze, listening to the frisky ruffles of the water brushing the sand, and indulging on to the awesome sight of the sun rising up the hills—it’s one of those experiences I just couldn’t trade off.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Mindanaoan Prologue

Here I will try to show in this whole blog how one enjoys life in the city, well, in my point of view that is. This I write in the context of living in a city situated here in one of the major islands in the Philippines—Mindanao. This blog can also be thought of as a travel guide for tourists who wishes or plans to visit the Philippines, particularly Mindanao. Or maybe for people from other parts of the country who were thinking of visiting the south side of the country but does not know what to expect from the place, they can make this their first step in coming to the shores of Mindanao. But perhaps it would be safer to say to people planning to do that kind of endeavor not to make this blog the sole basis of their travel guide. Here I just give the reader an idea of what it is like living in the cities of Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, and in the context of a young adult’s mind. I present this in the fashion of recounting the events that took place in cities here in Mindanao where I have resided or spent a considerable amount of time. Here I present a picture of the places and events with an eye deprived of bias. Here on this blog I will try and religiously paint a picture of people, situations, and places that made Mindanao an endearing home to me.

I am currently residing in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. As you can see in the map below, she is situated at the bay area in the Northern part of Mindanao. This means that beaches are just a ride away! That would be about 20% of the allowance given to an average student like me. Economists say that this city is an economic hub: people who travel from the North to the south or vice versa, have to pass by Cagayan de Oro City.

Loading Map...

Anyway, I guess that would be enough for now. On the next blogs to come, I will slowly introduce to the reader the shores of a place I call home—Mindanao.

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