Posted by: luvin | September 23, 2011

Mindanao 1980-2011

Recently a friend who was living in the USA  for the past 25 or so years asked me how is Mindanao today?

Going to Silliman University from my hometown, the travel distance is considerable.  I have to travel by land for about 10 hours, then by boat  for about 8 hours. That is the shortest route. Sometimes due the inability of boat (airplane is possible, but is not really cost efficient.  there was only the Philippine Airlines-then a monopoly), we have to find other ways, and those alternative route were longer. We always do some sort of a travel tour around Mindanao and Visayas, but the youth in us never complains. On the other hand, we enjoy those long trips that practically  allowed us some very important travel time.

My first year in college was in 1981, the roads then were generally dusty but the major highways were already concreted, many parts though needed some major repair. The easiest route is via Cagayan de Oro which is at the northern part of Mindanao. We have to travel to Davao , travel time is about 3 hours, then to Cagayan via Butuan which is about 8 to 10 hours ride. There are some portion along the towns of Prosperidad in Agusan that have to be rehabilitated. That was the only bumpy part. However, if the only available boat ride is in General Santos City, then we have to travel for 5 hours going to GenSan, the roads are 90 percent rough. It was really rough that two hour of ride feels like eternity, and after every travel, I can recall some friend promising not to pass that road again. If we choose not to suffer the bumps, we would travel via Cotabato City, which is just about 2 to 3 hours ride depending on the means of transportation, then by a small boat going to Pagadian then we would travel by land going to Dipolog. Since the boats were small, the waves would throw it up and down that one can’t help but throw out everything from your stomach. By the time we reach Dumaguete, most are already dehydrated and dead tired. It would take me about two days to feel normal again.

The condition of Mindanao’s road was despicable, and there are but a few available routes.  Some  buses were already airconditioned, but the one in Zamboanga Peninsula were  mostly non aircon. Many boats are in very bad shape that it is not uncommon to hear capsized boats. Airlines are very limited.

The towns going to General Santos City were basically in typical provincial setting. How I wish I had a DCLR camera then. The towns of Buluan was the only Moro town which were noticeably economically active. People could be seen mingling along the road. Fishes for sale are displayed at the road side. Then we would pass by the town of Tacurong which is a bit bigger than Buluan. Going to Marbel or Koronadal, there were other small towns that looked like villages. I can’t really remember how those towns appeared then, perhaps the dust were obscuring my memory or the travel exhaustion totally blurred my vision.

Koronadal was a bit bigger than Tacurong. When the jeepney would stop for a meal, we would hurry to the nearest carenderia which were housed in wooden structured buildings. Some carenderia still serve their food in sartin plates (it is made of coated tin) which are mostly painted in white with blue edging. Softdrinks or water were normally poured in those thick drinking glass.  Most buildings then were made of wood. Concrete buildings can only be seen in big cities like Davao, Cagayan de Oro or in General Santos.        (to be continued)

 

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