“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” –Aldous Huxley
This is the second article from a 3-part series recounting my experiences, observations and reflections when I visited Sulu last April 13-15 2012 during my 100 Days Journey around the Philippines.
I’m publishing what I wrote on my mobile phone’s notepad. I also added some commentary enclosed with parentheses (), for the reader to better understand the situation.
Friday, 13th day of April 2012 (Friday, the sixth day in the Islamic week is the most important day, it is the day of congregation, a day of prayer, a day of worship.)
Fear was transformed to faith.(I arrived at Jolo Port being greeted with a beautiful sunrise- the sky was orange then suddenly transformed into a serene blue it was like a painting, it is the most beautiful sunrise I have seen in my entire 100-day journey)
Faith in humanity, faith in Muslims, faith in God. (The imam’s call to prayer blasted out from the speakers of the mosques, after some minutes I heard the morning prayer, I took a deep breath and prayed to my God too. I felt Muslim’s spirituality is deeper than mine. The experience was so gripping I almost shed into tears.)
Fear is now gone, gone forever. I realized that the people of Jolo (Locals of Jolo are mostly from the Tausug tribe, they are known to be the bravest of all the Muslim tribes in the Philippines) are as accommodating as others, maybe even more. I was fetched in the ferry boat (my contact fetch us inside the ferry boat, Adzfar Usman is his name, a professor in MSU-Jolo), treated kahawa (local brewed coffee) and given hot breakfast (one of the best and cheapest breakfast I ever ate), brought to our inn (Peace Keeper’s Inn, Camp Asturias, Jolo) and given much respect. Treated as a friend, a kin, a brother, one of their own.
After a few hours, I was invited in the inauguration of the new mosques in Patikul, Sulu. I arrived and was welcomed with “salam” (Salam means peace in Islam. They greet their friends with “Asaalamu alaikum” meaning “Peace be with you”) and cakes. All sorts of cakes and sweet goodies I just saw for the first time. I was seated among the leaders of the MNLF and they were proud to have me as one of the honored guests (This was the very first time I felt so honored while having a lunch banquet, I felt like I was the president of the country). So we ate, they gave me the best portions of every food, they let me try everything while Gael aka The Pinay Solo Backpacker found a friend among the ladies.
While sipping a good local Arabica coffee I was listening intently to a discussion of the real situation in “Mindanao.” (Don’t miss the last part of the series, the best of them all)
They are from the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), my new friends, brothers even if I am a “Christian.” A few minutes later, some from the Philippine National Police arrived, with M16s, hand grenades and long arms. It was a peaceful meeting of different groups, I was dumb-founded, I cannot believe what I was seeing. Why this harmonious relationship among them? Is there something wrong? Yes, there is: I WAS WRONG. (This time I knew that I was wrong, I judged the place and its people from the media’s perspective.) This is not what the media is portraying on TV nor what I read on the dailies; it is far from what the government is trying to relay. So I asked, “what happened along the way?”
Are the news one-sided? Is this the time where I forget every single news I have seen on TV, I have heard on radio and I have read on the paper? It’s hard to reconcile but I am seeing this first-hand. I think I believe myself, I choose to believe what I just saw and not the second-hand information that is widely available to the blinded public.
read Part 3 here: Journey to Jolo- Funds
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This is part 2 of a 3-part series recounting my experiences, observations and reflections when I visited Sulu last April 13-15 2012 (Days 73-75) during my 100 Days Journey around the Philippines.
#ISANGDAAN is a personal journey and challenge to backpack around the Philippines the cheapest way possible for 100 days. The book “ISANGDAAN” will be out soon!
If you want to follow my steps, I have an interactive map- ISANGDAAN Journey map.