I remember Yolanda so well. It was the onset of our Travel Mindanao tour three years ago (2013). I was at the airport and my flight to Butuan got cancelled. I got upset but found out sooner how petty my disposition was compared to what was happening to the people in Tacloban. As Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was ravaging Tacloban and the rest of eastern Visayas, communications line were cut-off leaving the rest of the country to wonder what was happening. When we finally got a glimpse of what has transpired, it looks like a scene straight out of a dystopian series or movie. Dead bodies everywhere, infrastructure devastated and people are in shock, still in disbelief of what happened to them. No one can imagine this could happen. An unforgettable bleak moment in the country’s history.
I can’t help but feel nostalgic. Six years is quite a long time to return to a place. Hanoi was such a favorite destination of mine back then. Yes I’ve treaded the streets of the Old Quarter before, went to an overnight cruise at Ha Long Bay and even enjoyed the misty coolness of Sapa Valley during my first visit in Northern Vietnam. But I don’t mind going back to see what has changed that’s why I didn’t think twice when an invite for a familiarization tour of Hanoi, organized by Cebu Pacific Air and Stratworks came in the email. There’s the certain comfort of stepping back into the familiar and also a certain anxiety to see how things have transitioned from now to then.
It was not hard to notice the wide national road neatly fringed with rows of palm trees once we entered the City of Tagum, Davao del Norte while on a shuttle coming from Davao City proper. This is probably one of the cleanest and greenest national road I’ve seen in the country. The #TravelMindanao group visits Tagum City for a day trip to see what this fast developing city has to offer.
I never got out of town this stormy month because I was gearing for bigger things in November 2013. Nonetheless I was able to savor my time going around the old walls of Manila some to shoot for a project and some to test around a new gadget. October is Museum month so it was the opportune time to see Juan Luna’s celebrated work “Spolarium”, an impressive piece of work despite its dark and macabre theme.
The little city with big developments, Singapore, is always an interesting to visit. I’m always looking forward too new sites and structures I would see whenever I’m there. But last April’s visit was more of a job since for the first time I was able to talk about Photography and the Philippines to a foreign audience. It was an enriching experience to say the least. We did allot a day to explore what’s new in Singapore since my last visit like the Supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay and the Helix Bridge.
I must admit, Iligan City is one of those cities in Mindanao that sees little tourist because of its smeared reputation from past “bombing” incidents in the city. I even remember a friend telling me that “I have to dodge bombs there before I can visit the waterfalls”. But I learned many times already from past visits to Tawi-tawi, Basilan and even Cotabato to not hastily judge a place by how media perceives it. One thing I know for a fact, Iligan City has plenty of waterfalls, 23 of them documented, and for a waterfall chaser like me, I know I’m gonna have a field day in this city. More apt this time is that Iligan Bloggers Society, organised a Waterfalling Adventure Tour event, where in 5 days, we get to explore 7 waterfalls, experience the festivities and culture of Iligan. I only have to shell out a minimum amount, my flight ticket and I don’t have to trouble myself in logistics . How can I resist that? I signed up immediately and was lucky to be one of the participants to this year’s tour. It’s time to experience Iligan!