It was the early part of 2005 when I was lucky enough to discover places in my country where people still walk for days just to go to the market, who wore animal skin as clothing or sometimes wearing nothing at all and places where lobsters are ordinarily eaten. Yes, there are still places undiscovered like this in my home country, Philippines.
|Mindanao Map - grabbed from yahoo|
On the southern part of Mindanao, there are still municipalities and barrios that remain untouched. We were doing a feasibility study on a proposed road network connecting several municipalities in the southern part of Davao del Sur to Sarangani. It was one of those adventures I’ll never ever forget.
We left Davao city around 9 a.m. traversed the Davao-Cotabato National highway. When we reached junction of Sulop, we turned and took the Malalag-Malita-Jose Abad Santos Road. Malita is a small fishing municipality that has been benefitting from the completed road network. So the next target is to provide a better road network connecting Malita to Jose Abad Santos in the hope of providing more opportunities and social services to the people of this far flung areas. What makes this trip something that of an adventure is that no proper roads to connect them have been establlished. If the municipal is lucky enough to have an extra budget to rent a road grader, they could clear a way for the people to use, but most of the time, horse trails are being used. And because of this horse trails that no cars have yet passed through this area. So imagine the shock of the people living in the area when they heard the roaring engine of our 4x4 pickup truck. We stopped at this little barrio, where as I’ve mentioned before, natives live here. They still haven’t catch up with the invention of clothes and they like to eat lobsters. It was rumored that during World War II, a lot of Japanese troops stopped over in this area and hid some of their treasures. That is why most of the tribes also look like Japanese. Short, fair skinned and almond eyes. What was really overwhelming is that almost everyone in that barrio came out of their huts and gathered around our vehicle and they were touching and smelling it. Our guide talked to the tribe leader and informed him of our visit. They were all happy to help and accommodate our agency to make that road a reality.
I realized, I’m so blessed, being born in the city, I am used to the perks of a city life, and those people who doesn’t even have their own electricity to light their huts can still be happy without the assistance of modern civilization. We continue with our journey, we drove along swamps, along shorelines and even going down steep terrains just to complete the documentation of the study and established that a road can be constructed connecting municipalities in the southern part of Mindanao. Most of those areas have no cellphone networks, even if I was carrying two mobile phones of two different network providers, still no signal. So imagine how petrified I am while we are slowly driving around cliff I was staring down the abyss and was thinking how will my family ever discover where we are if in case the car falls off. There are even times that we have to push the car just to go forward.
Our journey lasted for two days. We stopped over at Jose Abad Santos, the municipality that experiences beautiful sunsets everyday. It was a quiet municipality with very nice people but very shy. Most of them go to bed at 8 pm and wakes up as early as 4:30 am. Life in the province - sigh. We left at 8 am and continued our journey, and feast our eyes on so many white sand beaches. Untouched and untamed. Bluish white waves curls over the shores of every view. That was exactly what paradise should look llke. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time to stop and enjoy the beach. We reached Alabel of Sarangani the same day at 8 pm. We were driving the whole day. All my body parts ached, I have mosquito bites everywhere, thirsty and hungry plus the difficulty of peeing in the middle of nowhere - but it was all worth it for a glimpse of a paradise tucked away in the corners of Davao del Sur.
|Sarangani - grabbed from yahoo|