It took me three visits to Tawi-tawi before I finally set foot on the famed Panampangan Island. It’s not an easy island to reach like most of the islands in the region. Hiring boats have a hefty cost especially for independent travelers. An invitation to cover the Kamahardikaan 2017 festivity includes a visit to the island. It was an opportunity that’s hard to pass. Panampangan Island is considered the longest sandbar in the country.
From my window up 15 floors, I see the EDSA traffic but thankfully couldn’t hear it. I’ve passed through this area time and time again, mostly onboard the MRT and what I remember is the long stretch of not-so-idle land in between the intersection of Quezon Boulevard and the corner in front of SM City North EDSA, as well as the space where an MRT train makes a detour, parked quite away from motorists plying the main thoroughfare Then, Trinoma happened. Now, a newer, more prominent landmark has opened this side of Quezon City — Seda Vertis North.
“San ka galing? (Where did you come from?)”
“Sa malayo! Sa merloquet! (Somewhere far! At Merloquet)”
For Zamboangueños, ‘merloquet’ used to be a fabled place pertaining to somewhere far far away when used in colloquial conversation. Nowadays, it pertains to Merloquet Falls that has gained popularity in the recents years due to its wide pour and lovely wall of cascades. It is still far far away in Zamboanga City but I managed to visit the place as a side trip while in the region.
I turned up the volume of the Bose speaker connected via bluetooth to my smartphone. The acoustic harmony of the Hollow Cove’s “The Woods” filled my large Luxury Room. I split the curtains wide and see the Sukhumvit street below early in it’s early morning bustle. “We’re all falling and we all need a place… to hide!” I somehow echo the lyrics of the song. After a week of exploring Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I welcome a little indulgence to cap my last few days in Thailand. Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit welcomed me with their 5-star comfort and warmth. My birthday was just five days ago but it felt this was the time to celebrate.
I like non-commercial festivals like the Agal-agal Festival in Tawi-tawi. They are refreshing and different. Unlike popular festivals that honors the Sto Niño, Agal-Agal Festival celebrates the way of life of the Sama people. From harvesting agal-agal (seaweeds), courtships, and even the supernatural. I was excited to see the Agal-Agal Festival 2017 since I enjoyed witnessing it the first time three years ago in Bongao. This year, the 44th Kamahardikaan Festival is hosted by the municipality of Languyan.
It was one of those national landmarks in the country most people are familiar with. Having grown up reading about it on text books, Magat Dam is known one of the largest dams in the country. The water is mainly used for irrigation, flood control and electric source through the Magat Hydroelectric Power Plant. We took a drive to the municipality of Ramon from Echague to visit this popular dam for an afternoon sightseeing.
We came with rain the last time we were in Maddela, Quirino. The waters at Governor’s Rapids were murky and flow erratic like the weather. The recent visit this year was a side-trip from Echague, Isabela, a neighboring municipality across the provincial border. It was a smooth over an hour drive on paved roads. Friends from Isabela tourism seems to be chummy with the people here in Maddela. They knew each other. This time the sun shown bright, the waters a healthy pale green and the rapids inviting. Finally we get to experience this river adventure.