Yato Island and Rio Hondo encounters were a hit and I saw that people love to read my unexpected meetings with strangers. Now let me continue the feature with another story from Mindanao more particularly in Samal Island, that little isle east of Davao City.
My tweet the night I arrived at the Kaalim compound was, “I’m staying in a Muslim family here in Samal island. I feel like part of the family already. Asalam alaikum!”
Strangers who became my friends: Kuya Lek, Ate Frances, Mother Fely, Deejay, Abdul, Rashid, Nurj
Place of meeting: Brgy. Tambo, Babak District, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Date: June 2011
I was looking for a place to stay while in Davao during the 5th day of my Mindanao Backpacking Challenge and I was a bit surprise that someone from CouchSurfing texted me that I can stay in their place in Samal island. Although I really wanted to go to Talicud and Isla Reta, the couch offer was too good to be refused.
Ate Frances, a couchsurfer, is based on South Cotabato and returns home (Samal Island) only on weekends. Talk about being in the right place at the right time, I was in Davao City on a weekend. After a lot of SMS exchanges I finally met her at Sasa port going to Samal Island. I was just planning to stay overnight but I was treated as a family member, invited for breakfast, lunch, dinner and tuba-drinking session not to mention given a room with a nice view of mangrove trees when I wake up. One night became 3 days.
Makes me question the common notion about “war in Mindanao” or “Muslim terrorists.” I tell you, if you haven’t been to Mindanao, you are missing a lot. I can boldly say that its one of the places in Philippines were I felt safe, I felt paradise, MINDANAO BLISS it is. Her people are nice and peaceful, her natural wonders beyond compare.
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For more information about MINDANAO BLISS, you can check out the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Carnival, hosted by Olan Emboscado, a proud Mindanaon, of The Travel Teller. You can also click the blog carnival logo for the archived list of previous topics.
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And how would I describe Mindanao?
“I would describe this blessed land to an unpolished gem, the beauty is within, and only the keen traveler can see, and find charm even in the most mundane of situations.”
Green Travel. The morning I woke up, I joined the kids of the compound to pick up some trash from the mangroves trees and finish off with planting 16 mangrove seedlings as a symbol of my 16-day challenge in Mindanao in the Vanishing island (Sanipaan island as locals call it). Not only did I saw the beauty of the vanishing sand bar, I trust that I did something to enhance that beauty. Thanks to Deejay for giving me that idea of doing something for the environment.
Samal Island Tour. My Samal experience would not be complete if I will not see what the island is known for. The next day, Kuya Lek, Ate Frances’ husband, offered to lend me his motorbike to have a tour. Along with Rahid and Adbul, we went to Mangongawong Falls and Cave in Tagbaobo, Licup Viewdeck, Canibad Beach and Montfort Bat caves.
On my last night, I bought a whole chicken and we celebrated everything. I was thankful for having new Muslim friends. And I was surprised with a sketch drawing by Abdul. I almost cried when I saw this:
Before I left, Mother Fely told me that when I return I can bring the barkada (or the girlfriend) with me. Until now, she is asking when will I come back as the room and small house is always open for me. How sweet! She even accompanied me back to Davao City.
Kuya Lek, Ate Frances, Mother Fely, Deejay, Rashid and Adbul, I will never forget the goodness you have shown to a sojourner like me. “JazakAllahu khair!”
Kuya Lek, your message is still in my inbox, “Your welcome kapatid. Our door is open for you. Come back anytime…”
Btw, here’s my last photo in their compound:
Is the flag familiar?
STRANGE[R] ENCOUNTERS recount the encounters I had with the locals in the places I visit. It’s my aim that the reader would meet the individuals I will talk about. They have become a part of my journey here on earth.
We met and said “hello” as strangers; we bid “good-bye” as friends.