Thursday, April 27, 2017
Home > News Center > Mindanao, tourist destination- by Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy

Mindanao, tourist destination- by Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy

CT6feMCU8AAz3XJA friend  who’s been planning  for ages  to visit Davao, texted me  if ISIS  had indeed gained a foothold in Mindanao.  “No, ISIS here, only SSSS,”  I replied.

“What’s SSSS?” he texted again. “Sand, sea, surf, sun, ” was my reply.

“But what about TV  footage of men waving ISIS’ black  flag?”  was his follow-up query.

“Those are clueless copycats.  They’re  aping  everything  they see on YouTube—from bandanas to  bandoliers to  beards,’’ I said.

I was tempted to call them  dubsmash  militants, they whose idea of insurgency is to  mimic poster boys of terror for social media likes.  But my friend, being a foreigner,  hasn’t probably  heard of Aldub.

The above  conversation is familiar to me. Friends  planning to fly to Mindanao would first surf the Trip Advisor website for reviews and validate what they read there with me, their  personal trip advisor.

What usually follows   is  talk or text  interpellation. They raise their concerns; I assuage them.

After fieIding questions from   hundreds of them through these years, I have come to conclude that their fears stem from low GQ—or geographic quotient.

They think Mindanao is a postage stamp-sized island  which can be circled by a car  with  just one  full tank of gas.

If they’d  just  Googled its size, they would have learned  that at almost 100,000 square kilometers, Mindanao is the world’s 19th biggest island.

It is   slightly smaller than Cuba (17th)  and Iceland (18th) but  bigger by 13,000 square kilometres than Ireland. You can chop  off one-third  of Mindanao’s land mass and what would remain would still be bigger than Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately,  when a bomb goes off in Zamboanga,  the impression is that the shrapnel is sprayed all over the island, as if  this land of 23 million people were  a pocket-size sitio.

What is not known is  that  the distance by a straight line from Dinagat,  the northeast-most point of Mindanao, to Tawi-Tawi,  its southwestern tip , is the same as that of  Matnog, Sorsogon to Aparri, Cagayan.

In fact , in Dinagat  one can tune in  to the spiels  of  Waray DJs of Tacloban FM stations  while in Tawi-Tawi, they’re addicted to Malaysian telenovelas.

So my standard reply to the stereotypical fears about Mindanao is that it is generally  safe and peaceful.

Exhibit A is Davao City. While a Metro Manilan   would clutch  his old Nokia phone  for fear of being snatched,  such a habit has not been ingrained in Davaoeños.

So, if you’re  planning your summer trip, you may consider the world’s 19th biggest island, whose sights and adventure offerings are only matched by the number of its residents.

For one, Mindanao is well served by airlines.  Flights to Davao and major cities like Cagayan  de Oro  from Manila  or Cebu leave almost hourly.

Even once-missionary routes are now linked by sky bridges.   There are  flights to Tawi-Tawi, out of Zamboanga City by Cebu Pacific  which  has deployed an Airbus jet for this route.

You may not have  heard of Tandag, the capital city of  Surigao Sur. It is the latest  destination of  the  Gokongwei-owned budget carrier.

Now you ask me what visitors can do in Surigao Sur,  on Mindanao’s Pacific seaboard, or in Tawi-Tawi, whose many islands can be reached by paddleboat from Borneo.

Plenty.  The Philippines’ version—petite, I must, however, qualify—of Niagara Falls is in Tinuy-an, Bislig, less than two hours by van from Tandag.  Nearby is Hinatuan town’s Enchanted River, unfathomable both in depth and beauty.

Or  if you want someplace  nearer, there’s the Britannia group of islands, which many swear is better than Boracay without the crowd—and for a fraction of the cost.

Tawi-Tawi’s 109 islands boast of pristine beaches.  If only the security situation in the area were better, Tawi-Tawi’s beaches would have long made it to Conde Nast’s global best.

That in fact is the common roadblock   to scenic spots   perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be located in conflict areas.  Case in point is Basilan,which a friend  attests, possesses   an inventory of unspoilt beaches. One day,  tourism will be a dividend of peace.

Mindanao is dotted with beaches off the beaten track. Glan in Sarangani, and Kalamansig and Palembang in Sultan Kudarat have great beaches.

A friend is trying to catalogue Mindanao’s waterfalls. He has counted 150 and admits he has not reached midpoint yet. He invited me to Asik-Asik  in Alamada, Cotabato. I’ve put it in my bucket list.

Another friend’s project is to sail around Mindanao’s many lakes. He has been to Lake Mainit  which straddles the  Surigao Norte-Agusan Norte  boundary and  the freshwater eel he tasted there, he swears with eyes closed and   lips smacking, can give the roasted eel in  Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market a run for its money.

Marawi City in Lake Lanao he describes as a city with the  climate of  Baguio but with a lake as big as Laguna de Bay beside it. Both the city and lake are perched  thousands of  feet above sea level, assuring its residents of  natural airconditioning.

If climbing summits, not the 4S, is not your cup of tea,  Mindanao offers lots to climb. Mount Apo is one. Kitanlad  in Bukidnon also has a climbing season.

Whatever, Mindanao offers ridge to reef natural wonders.   Beginners may want to enjoy what Davao and its environs can offer, from summiting to snorkelling, all within minutes of  their hotel.

The CDO-Camiguin-Bukidnon triangle can  also be  packed with trips,  from canopy walks, to culinary excursions , to camping out.

More than 4.7 million local and foreign tourists visited Mindanao in 2014.  And not one was kidnapped  by a terrorist group—real or copycat.

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