Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Open Letter to South Cotabato

Dear South Cotabato,

There are so many things I wanted to tell you before we ended our four year relationship. Ours was not a conventional run-of-the-mill kind of story so you can imagine how painful it was for me when I left. But rest assured that I did not write this letter to destroy your reputation. I wrote this as a celebration of my undying love for you.

 Let me run down some things that I’ve always wanted to say.
  •    I thank you for teaching me how to speak Ilonggo. Sure, there are many Ilonggo speaking locals in my hometown but it was you who made me realize that it is a romantic language I’d rather use than French and Spanish. My friends are always fond of hearing me speak your language when I try to express the malambing side of me.
  •      I hate the fact that a lot of tourists are flocking to you. Since when have you become so popular? I am jealous. As much as I want to keep you to myself, deep in my heart I just want you to know that I am so proud of you. You have come a long way and it amazes me seeing what you have become.
  •     I could still remember my first T’nalak Festival experience. I was a freshman at Koronadal National Comprehensive High School and the images of the festival are still vivid in my mind. It was the morning of July 18th of 2003. In a boarding house along Bonifacio Street near Alunan Avenue, I was busy washing the dishes when I suddenly heard a song – something festive, grandiose and celebratory. And when I took a chance to witness your festival, I fell in love with your arts and culture.
  •    Take care of your street dancers. Mold them. Guide them to be ambassadors of your culture. They are the new generations of artists who will blaze the trail of hope to preserve your heritage. I saw some of them at the Aliwan Fiesta and Kadayawan. I admit, watching them brought you so much closer to me. 

  •    T’nalak, your very own sacred cloth, is the best thing that sets you apart from the rest. It defines you. It is you. Spread it but don’t ever lose it. Seeing the creations of Randy Ortiz and other Filipino designers, I know that it is only a matter of time before I get to see T’nalak gowns sashaying down the runway of New York Fashion Week.
  •     I was surprised to see your products in Singapore. My friend was pointing at green bananas hanged along with other fruits when I checked the label – DOLE Philippines. I told them they have to taste your pineapples. They can also give the turon being sold outside our school a try.

  •     Moreover, I can’t stop raving about your Tilapya and Balbakwa. And I should stop talking about your food before I crave.
  •   I wish you will never stop fighting for your place. Protect your mountains even if it means giving resistance to mining companies wanting to use your own natural resources.
  •    I regret not taking you to my hometown. I wish you were able to see the scenic view from South Cotabato’s boundary to Columbio. I can imagine the two of us riding a habal-habal taking the road resembling to Baguio’s Kenon Road. Or we could be sitting on the roof of a Jeepney and let the moment take us to be infinite. It would have been a ride of a lifetime. 

  •     It is always a good thing when you are able to unite your people. Their cultures, however different, create a harmonious way of living.
  •     I thank you for making high school interesting. At KN, I met my friends for life. For all you know, I wrote 50% of this letter in our class valedictorian’s unit. Whenever I see students clad in their uniform, I get a sense of pride and “kaangasan” but perhaps it is because graduates of public schools like us were given a different kind of upbringing.

  •       Your Alunan Avenue was my refuge whenever I wanted to do paperwork. When gazillions of internet cafes operated along the avenue during my senior year, it became our second home. Heck, it’s where I finished my research paper. I hear that some bars have cropped up like mushrooms. I have yet to see them but if I do, I’d probably miss the old eatery, internet cafes and some other places they replaced in the name of giving the place a cosmopolitan vibe.
  •     I’ve met some of your students in our country’s prestigious universities. They are the testament of your high literacy rate. Take care of them for someday they will bring new ideas and share knowledge to let you move forward.
  •       I thank you for making me feel that Mindanao is not what most of the people think it is. With you I feel safe – that I have nothing to worry about even if I walk in the street at midnight or decide to jog early in the morning.
  •    Baby even if we’re no longer together, I still find myself coming back to you. Sometimes, I think of using the Davao Airport instead just so I won’t be able to see you. But Gensan’s Airport is a better option since it makes travelling more convenient and practical. The journey from the Tuna City to you is like a trip down the memory lane. Even if we only get to see each other every summer and Christmas, I like the feeling that I am always welcomed. Sometimes it makes me think that we never ended our relationship. Until now, I could still feel the sense of belongingness and this letter made me realize that I am still connected to you. And so I promise that whenever I get the much needed break from my work, I will see you. We shall reminisce like long lost lovers. But I guess what I’m really trying to say is, “Palangga ta gid ka.”

“This is my submission for the T'nalak Festival 2012 Blog Writing Contest, which is made possible with the support of sponsors such as Hon. Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr and the province of South CotabatoSun Cellular - get two days of unlimited text to all networks for only ₱15 with SUN TEXTALL15Dole PhilippinesRepresentative Teddy CasiƱo & Bayan Muna Party-List,  KCC MallsSouthCotabato.Org and South Cotabato News.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Soul searching in Singapore

After taking a hiatus for almost nine months, I am finally back! Let's give credit to my recent out-of-the-country trip last week for it made me realize that yes, I have been taking this blog for granted. I also unearthed some travel photos taken a few months ago. So from this day on, I shall be posting long overdue entries.

First on the list, the fine city Singapore. Vicki, whom I met during the debate and media camp in Thailand, was my personal tour guide during my four-day visit. I also thank her friends Adeline and Chris for letting me stay at their place since I was on a tight budget.haha

As a former tour guide herself, Vicki was in fact commendable as a friend-turned-ambassador of her country. Her honest opinion about her country's culture and status quo just proves that she is not your average run of the mill tour guide. I owe my first Singapore trip to her.

So what happened in Singapore? I went to Sentosa, Marina Bay Sands, National University of Singapore, National Library, National Museum, Haw Par Villa, Harry Potter Exhibit, Bugis Street, Chinatown, etc. Oh did I mention the mambo at Zouk, Lucky Plaza and Arab street? I will definitely go back to Singapore next year!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Talakudong Festival 2011

                                                                      Supermodel Pose

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering Carmen

             What was supposed to be a photo walk turned out to be a trip down the memory lane.
             After having our halo-halo, Kuya Jong, Kuya Jun and I decided to take our photography adventure into another level. I promise to make a personality profile about these two incredible guys after the photo contest. :) In the middle of our journey, we couldn't help but think why we're so willing to put an effort in  a very simple photo contest. We all agreed that it wasn't just about the prize. Perhaps, we didn't want the judges to be disappointed. Perhaps, it was because of our love for photography. Or I simply put it as lingaw-lingaw na lang namon.
           In an attempt to find the undiscovered beauty of Tacurong City, we found ourselves in a place that brought so much memories of our childhood days. Brgy. Carmen is the home of Boy Scout and Girl Scout camp site in Sultan Kudarat.
          Kuya Jong and Kuya Jun recounted their days as campers. Can you believe it? I thought the only connection that we have is our passion for taking pictures. Now, I need to add Carmen on my list about the things that we have in common. Kuya Jun joked about how Kuya Jong's school camp was strategically placed in a special area. Private school daw kasi.haha I didn't know that even school camps have become a status symbol.
         In my personal trance, I did remember my early days as a Star Scout/Girl Scout. Oh how I miss singing the GSP song. I miss reciting the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law. I miss tying different kinds of knots. Carmen is a place that taught me how to become independent at a very young age. As I look back, I wonder how many people of my age had the same experience. But just like any girl, I am happy that the kids in Sultan Kudarat will recite the same laws, sing the same songs, tie the same knots and wear the same uniform (with badges pa!) come October. We may not know each other but one thing that binds us is our experience in a place called Carmen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Roads rarely taken

On my way home from a photo tour (organized by the City Government of Tacurong, for the Igpat sang Kamera Photo Contest) I chanced upon this glowing "round ball" in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kadayawan Festival 2011 - Indak-indak sa Kadalanan

    I may not be a fan of Durian but nothing can stop me from loving the Kadayawan Festival. It's my first time to witness this said "King of Festival" and since I enjoyed it so much, I promise to be back next year with my full gear! Being a fan of Philippine festivals, I was so curious to know what this famous festival had to offer. 
    When my parents dropped me off along the Magsaysay area, I bravely walked in the streets and took pictures of the dancers under the scorching heat of the sun. While I was catching up with the last contenders, I found out that they're all the way from Surallah, South Cotabato. I did remember them during the T'nalak Festival. Being their loyal kababayan from SOCCSKSARGEN, I followed their journey until the end of the festival. Seeing the kids dance their hearts out made me feel so proud of them. I thought the win was definitely in the bag. They were so disciplined and enjoyable to watch. Mark my word, the kids from Purok Sison Elementary School are a force to reckon with in the Aliwan Fiesta.
    As expected, the dancers from Purok Sison Elementary School were hailed as grand slam champions in the open category while performers from Magallanes Elementary School won in the Davao-based category.

                                                           Moments of the champions!

                 Allan Laguyo, official choreographer of Purok Sison Elementary School Performing Arts Group
The kids are now celebrities!
Dancers from other contingents

Congratulations to Purok Sison Elementary School! South Cotabato, nag-iisa ka! And as what the kids always say, "Uswag Surallah!"
Click here for more pictures.