tilapia all day

my short stay in lake sebu was another amazing journey to familiarizing myself with the beauty of the philippines (char). lake sebu is a municipality located 1,000mts above sealevel in south cotabato. it is home to 19 barangays (18 of which is governed by the T’bolis and the Ubos) and sports three mountain lakes, including the enchanting lake sebu itself. having acquainted myself to natives i have been educated yet again on life’s hardships and glorious moments. the documentary im working on in the area allows me to get in touch with many of them, hearing about their movements and noting down their sentiments, recording their cries of injustice and sharing in their stories of determination and triumph.

arrived in lake sebu early monday morning and was briefed by sir jorge on the taxi about the project in cotabato. was led to a single-room cottage with a balcony and a great view of the lake. i immediately rounded up the NGO people in the office and asked what the main issues of the area were. after half an hour we got to a general idea of how the docu should come out but still unclear about details and how to get it. eventually through interviews with datus and farmers, we were able to flesh out a working outline of the video. however the real cut of the film would only be finalized after i got it cleared with the big bosses in zamboanga.

first meal in lake sebu was tilapia, fished fresh out of the lake. dinner, apparently was also with tilapia. oh and could you guess what we had for breakfast? im not gonna tell you.

oh yeah, made a couple of booboos that irked an educated t’boli with a lot of hangups. ok, i should be more understanding. but hey, if i was forewarned i wouldnt have started shooting the nak’d lady by the public well! ok i was kidding.

had a great time when t’boli children surrounded me and my cam in a circle and while singing a native song. and i was serenaded by an old t’boli in full regalla– on her knees! then we hiked up traankini to get shots of the waterfalls where i accidently slipped and got the cam wet. oops, did i just give myself away?

more later when i can gather my thoughts better. right now im in cagayan de oro for a break but i will be going back to lake sebu after the all-saint’s day holiday. cheers y’all!


stepping down the bukid

ok so here i am again, updating you on my bukid adventures. i cant stay long so i cant really leave you guys tales of wonder and magic. im just having a smashing time in lake sebu, south cotabato. got a great view of the lake from the balcony of my resort cottage room. ive shared conversations with the tribes people and have also made quite a few booboos about dealing with them. the countryside is amazing, simple life, not so simple life. i will tell more later. now i have to get back up the mountain and the lake within. peace!


in davao

i was delayed going to general santos because the boat didnt arrive at 8am saturday as it should. reports said a man fell overboard, thus explaining the delay. mygas! at least that gave me a last-minute opportunity to see more of zambo city. girlie and roland and i went to la vista del mar hopefully to check out the vintas but there werent any. we then went to the yakan village and take pics of them weaving. i even got to know the guy (brainy ilul) who weaved (wove?) the yakan bag i bought. coolness! we then visited fort pilar before heading back to the pier.the boat was then supposed to arrive at 3pm (7 hours delayed) and leave at 5. by 5 we were only about to board but not before getting rained on and taking shelter in container vans on the pier! the boat finally left 7.30pm.

but hey, what i thought was an 8 hour trip to general santos had to take longer. the stupid boat would be stopping over davao first (15hours) before heading for general santos. so i got here davao 1pm today (sunday). since general santos is only 3 hours away by bus (as suppose to 8hours on that damned ship), i got off and met with cuzin aron before i head off to the bus terminal for the 6pm bus.

see the city, enjoy the sights! unfortunately it rained this afternoon and davao looked dreary under falling water. nevertheless, was able to buy medicine and additional minidv tapes and check my email before heading for lake sebu where ill be immersed in more environmental and cultural issues with the t’bolis for a week.

coolness! hi to all! wish you were here *sniff* to see all the wonderful stuff the philippines has to offer 😀 ashteg!


from the bukid, back up, and down again

i thought id be leaving zambo tuesday night but it turned out the boat for general santos i was to ride on was on dry dock. so my departure was moved to thursday. that gave us the opportunity to visit some parts of the mountain i havent shot before. we went back up wednesday night to prepare for an early interview with some farmers, take shots of girdled trees, shoot a seminar with the community, then go up the la paz bukid from km26, go to binalabag (highest peak and border of the WMSU area and the water district/watershed area of zambo city), then back down at km14 (san fernando station). that’s around 12km over the boondock. asteg

didnt think my lawas could take it, i havent done anything this physically demanding and challenging before. ive tried indoor wall climbing but that’s all ive done before. my sport has always been swimming and even that i havent done in a long while. im particularly thrilled ive pushed my limit and survived. with nary a linta sucker on me nor major injury, save a few scratches on my legs and hands.

last tuesday we also trekked through the virgin forest. first we passed by this really great waterfall. taking a swim energized me and my companions roland and mang bering. then we started the uphill climb (more like crawl) all the way to the primary forest’s peak. had lunch and did my interview with mang bering there. we got back to km14 (where we started off from) at around 3 or 4pm, covering 10km of bukid in 5+ hours. coolness!

then we headed down km11 hoping to interview one of the key farmers of the area, but he already left because it took us a long time to descend. roland and i decided to walk the rest of the way until we find a habal-habal. it took us to km7 before a motorcycle going downhill came our way at around 7pm.

im blessed to have such a great opportunity working on this project and meeting these incredible people. this experience has indeed opened my eyes to a lot of things, including the hardships of people in the area, the beauty of untouched forests, the damage man unwittingly effects on the environment, the delicate balance of issues between man and environment, senseless material wealth and the significance of perception. after meeting some of the members of the community i didnt see them as poor or unfortunate. they had a house, an area to grow cash crops, mineral water everywhere, clean mountain air and all the exercise theyd want.

i was really surprised while shooting a group of farmers on a truck awaiting to bring their goods down the pueblo. they asked me if the footage i was taking would appear on the evening news. i said i was with an NGO doing a video docu. then one replied, “ah, ginabidyo nimo kaming mga pobre (poor).” he wasnt being sarcastic but apparently that’s how they saw themselves. and all i could say was, no, i was taking footage of farmers (them) from the area.

maybe im being too wrapped up with what im doing, but i do hope they realize that they have it better compared to a lot of people in the city in so many ways than just having appliances and electricity and transportation.

perhaps i can still do something about making them realize that they have it well.

eat your veggies, people. a lot of farmers slave on those all day for a year so that you’d have color on your cheeks. and dont forget to thank the Lord for them when you see that you’re as healthy as a cow. cheers all!



hey all to you taggie people:rayts, im on blogger temporarily while im out of manila. when i have time ill work on html again for my pages 🙂 in the meantime, just enlarge your text viewing size or something hehehe

poink123! sayang i had to log off almost immediately when i caught you online. anyhu hope to see you soon! love this song too, it’s such a happy song although ive no idea what it’s about hahaha

hey cuzinedge! yeah, i havent gotten to scanning my pics yet. and im working on film since i got here (almost no digital pics except for one pic of me hehehe which ill be using to change my profile pic). update ka na din no! 🙂 see ya soon!

macb! hey! ill be back in manila around nov, but it looks like i might be extended for a few more weeks than expected. but im having the time of my life, riding on deluxe buses in the middle of the night for 14 hours while battling the elements and fatigue, seeing this side of the philippines, taking 30 peso tricycle rides and interneting on islands, conversing with different languages and still making sense. crazy world! im so blessed hehehe praise the Lord!

darlene and carla! hello you both! hope to see you soon at crl!

artistmonk, how come i sound better when im traveling? do i make sense even? hehehe where are you right now? im just glad i still have this outlet to let the world know that im enjoying every minute of God’s opportunities for growth and creative chuvas.

kimchiboi, when are you coming back to the pinas? zambo is interesting but im enjoying the mountains more. and yeah, i also cant wait for gensan’s lake sebu. they said it’s the best! and im still climbing more mountains there! hehehe

drei! i WILL ukay again in baguio soon. in the meantime im checking out zambo, gensan, cagayan de oro, butuan, surigao, and cubao muna hehehehe hope to see you off your plateau soon. ciao mi amigo!to the rest, have a great week! enjoy! cheers! and God bless!


foggy mornings and battle wounds

had a truly great time up in la paz mountain in zambo. one had to go up the mountain for 30-45mins on a habal-habal (motorcycle). my project companion roland had to sit side-saddled in front of the motorcycle. i sat behind the driver with a sack of food between my legs, balancing a huge (heavy) mountain pack strapped behind my back, while holding up half a dozen eggs with one hand and on to the manong driver and to life with the other. every time we hit huge rocks along the way the bike would bounce and id hop and slide off the seat a little. crazy! i even burned the side of my right leg from the hot exhaust tube of the bike (tambutso ba!). ouch!

when we arrived up at the house of nong bering, one of the forest guards of la paz, it was around 1pm and the mountain was already foggy. thank God it didnt rain though. we had to cook what we brought for lunch (to be shared with the rest of the household). mang bering still wasnt home so we were accomodated by his son, jerry, who turned 29 that very day.

loved the mountain air, really cold and clean, presko kaayu lugar. that first day we walked around about 2 kilometers before heading back home, then visited the waterfalls nearby. in the evening we huddled near the hearth in the kitchen to keep warm and conversed in bisaya and chavacano (me bisaya them chavacano) with the people of the house, while sharing a few shots of rum coke. there was no electricity (or cellphone signal) we headed to bed around 9pm.

the next morning i made my notes for the intervews and shots i needed to get. cris, the project coordinator from KFI, came up to check on us around 7. there was to be a meeting with the locals at 9. another habal-habal came to pick me up around 8.30 and off we headed through that foggy, rainy morning.

took a bath nearby the street at around lunchtime. it was freezing! then we waited to take a trip through the virgin forest which didnt take place till the next morning. it was practically dark when we headed off 3 kilometers to some person’s house who supposedly sang songs native to the area. unfortunately we learned he didnt sing. our flashlight was dying on us so we trekked yet again through the dark in the mountain like little hobbits, guided only by la luz de estrellas y sheer guts. we got back to the house by 8.30 and feasted on yet another sumptuous meal of grilled fish, kinamot style. we made a bonfire, drank a little and got to bed by 11pm (still early by manila standards).

in the morning of the third day roland and i got up early to catch the farmers harvesting their crops. we walked quite some distance through yet another maze of mountain streams, mud and rocky pathways. finally got shots of farmlands, cleared forest areas, farmers harvesting and children preparing goods for the market. when we got back to the house we just ate breakfast and headed up the mountain again to check out the virgin forest (or at least just the kilid of the forest).

had a great time through the rainforest. felt like i was chasing the blair witch and being chased by ringwraiths at the same time! too much movies does that to you hehehe btw, while trekking i held on to this tree which give way, hurling me down the way a few feet on a split! got lots of scratches on my leg. but it does look interesting, my leg is like a map, some history book or adventure novel, marked by first degree burns from the tambutso and cuts from the forest ground.

anyway, when we got back at mang bering’s house, gemini was already there to pick us up. if it were not for the videocam’s battery almost draining out on me i would have refused to come down the mountain. oh well, im going back up anyway on tuesday for final interviews and last minute shots. although im nursing a bad leg and totally sore muscles (bagtak and all), im excited to go back up. cheers!


down la paz bookid

had a wonderful time in upper la paz zamboanga city. stayed there for three days two nights working on a documentary on the area managed by WMSU (western mindanao something university – have to check what it is really) in cooperation with KFI (kasanyangan foundation inc) and DENR. it’s ubber cold up there that your breath starts to mist (i love it when it does that). and it fogs a lot too. the effect is rather magical i must say. virgin forest, mountain streams, boulders and boulders, clean air, strange sounds in the night, blair witches and sandmen (joke). wonderful!


chowking in zambo

i wanted to eat in some carinderia in zamboanga. this afternoon i tried to go ukay but didnt find anything interesting except for a mountain pack (but it was in light blue and purple). went around the shopping district and bought a raincoat to protect me from the elements up la paz mountain. grew hungry trying to find a nice eating place and eventually lost to eating at chowking instead.

tsk tsk

nothing wrong with an order of braised beef and wanton noodles but fact is, youre in some exciting place and you gotta go safe with food? i know there are a lot of really good eating places here. unfortunately i just didnt find them in time. hopefully ill be eating local for dinner.

also bought a pair of spartan slippers. didnt think id have a hard time choosing flipflops. the color wasnt right, the size was not right, the sole thickness wasnt not right, it was too hard, this one too soft. crazy! i eventually got a black pair. safe. like my chowking. and my raincoat was transparent. like the picture window near where i sat and worked at my papers in chowking.

oh well.


in zambo

arrived this afternoon in zambo. pretty interesting trip. the road from ipil, zamboanga del sur to the city proper was cut off by this freak landslide. we had to cross the border like vietnamese fleeing from saigon. i felt like some photojournalist on a story, even if i only had 4 shots left in my cam.

the countryside is beautiful, the terrain is different from what i usually see around cagayan and in luzon. there are hawks in the wild! and i saw a raven too. and herons on ricefields. crazy! more stories when i get down the mountain on saturday. it’s freezing here! i have to check out the ukay to get a jacket. stupid me, i only brought a sweater and surely that’s not enough.

more later! ciao! enjoy the rest of your week guys!


off to zambo

coolness. by 7 tonight ill be off to a part of southern mindanao that ive never been too. well, ive actually never been to southern mindanao. i havent been to davao or gensan or zambo or basilan etc. i know it’s tricky traveling but when youre from mindanao you dont get fazed by the news on the papers that there’s a war raging here. sure there’s a war, but it’s mostly psychological, the kind that the media wants you to think is happening.perhaps we’re just in denial. but hey, ive lived a large part of my life in mindanao nothing major has happened anywhere here. im pretty excited seeing that side of the island. i cant wait 🙂

but like yeah, cagayan de oro to zamboanga is 14hrs apart. and im taking the evening bus. 😦 oh well, ill enjoy it still. yeehee