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 anncoo.blogspot.com

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 illinoisreview.typepad.com.

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: http://mindanao.com/blog/2009/01/hard-to-change-attitudes/#comments

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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