Rolling in the Province of Chocolate Hills, Bohol

My visit to the province of Bohol was compacted to only two short days because aside from the famous chocolate hills, the other tourist spots are just few kilometers away from downtown Tagbilaran City. In fact, it can be done by one whole day except if you wanna visit Danao Adventure Park for some thrill and be mesmerize in the white beaches of Panglao Island.

My travel started from Cebu where I rode an Oceanjet Ferry for two hours going to Bohol (Fare: PHP800.00 round-trip). That two hours of travel helped me re-energize myself from my hike a day before in Osmena Peak and actually changed my whole plan in Bohol – one of the things I like about travelling solo because you can change whatever your plan is whenever you wanted. While on our way to Tagbilaran City, I was reading some travel blogs about Bohol when I came across a blog sharing her experience about The Plunge in Danao Adventure Park. I suddenly remember the time when a friend of mine did a bungee jump there that made me wanted to visit the place. So I put Danao as my first stop.

From the pier of Tagbilaran City, I rode a trike going to Dao Bus Terminal in front of Island City Mall (Fare: PHP50.00). Then I rode an SMTC bus with a 9AM trip going to Danao. This is a 3-hour long travel which already includes a lot of stopovers of the bus (Fare: PHP100.00). According to some locals, it’s better to ride a Van instead because it will only take an hour and half to reach the place. However, the long travel is enough to pass by a lot of chocolate hills. In fact, I could already afford not to visit the overlooking view in Carmen because I’ve got enough.

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The 3-hour long travel traveled my mind farther. As I was observing the people inside the bus, I feel like I was the only one stranger because they talked to each other and having a good laugh. Seems like it’s the only bus to drive to Danao and their only vehicle to connect to the city. In fact, we were the only vehicle passing by that road at that time. That road is rough on almost half of the way. Perhaps, if you are impatient, you’ll get hot-headed just as how we are impatient with our own lives by complaining so many things we couldn’t get our way or things we haven’t seen in the first place. But just like any other amusement park, the wait will be over to experience the things we didn’t expect to be better.

When I arrived in Danao Adventure Park, the two sweet receptionists informed me that ‘The Plunge’ (Bungee Jump) has been closed since the magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed its foundation last 2013. But they offered me a more thrilling experience through Sky Rappelling. According to them, it’s the highest in the Philippines. So without any doubt, I booked one for PHP800.00. The video below sums it up.

When I reached the ground, aside from an overwhelming feeling of making it, I couldn’t help but be amazed with the rock formations in the river along Dagohoy Hill (It’s where Francisco Dagohoy and the longest revolt in the Philipppines took place). But according to the locals, the presence of huge rocks were also due to the quake.

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PS: The staffs of Danao Adventure Park is what customer service all about!

I only stayed there for three hours but I feel like I have already experienced the whole Bohol. I got back to Tagbilaran City at around 7PM already (Fare: PHP85.00 non-aircon bus) and stayed in San Jose Pension House for a night stay of PHP800.00. (This made me think why there are more cheaper rooms in Manila and Davao than Bohol. Hmmm)

My first stop the next day is Carmen and see a view of the Chocolate Hills. I rode a non-aircon bus in Dao Terminal at around six in the morning (Fare: PHP65.00). Along the way, I passed by the historic Loboc Church ruined also by the quake. I haven’t brought out my camera because I was struck looking at it. It made me think how rich Bohol is in terms of heritage, culture and Catholicism. Spain’s influence was still present seeing a church, plaza, school and market all in the same place (called pueblo). Also, I saw the mesmerizing Loboc River with a blue-green clear water.

Not too far from Loboc, we passed by the famous man-made forest which is worth taking pictures while in the center of the roadway. But since I commuted and cannot have the time to drop off for a little time, I only captured it through a video.

After almost two hours of transit, I arrived in Municipality of Carmen. I hired a habal-habal for PHP50.00 to bring me up to the top of a hill. When I was younger, I always wonder if the Chocolate Hills are man-made because it’s kinda too good to be true to have all that hill in one place. The habal driver told me that the myth behind it was that all those hills were simply the teardrops from a giant living in there a long time ago. If those were teardrops, those are the most beautiful ones.

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I went back to Tagbilaran City before 12noon and contracted a habal driver for PHP200.00 to get me to Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Baclayon Church and Sikatuna blood-compact with Legaspi. The price is okay already because Corella is like 15-20 kilometers aways from Dao Terminal and Baclayon is also farther from Corella. I took few photos only because I was already starving.

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Afterwards, I visited the white Alona Beach of Panglao Island (Fare: PHP25.00 from across Island City Mall). This white beach is really a must-visit. The place is mesmerizing and the view is just heaven on earth (minus the tourist). I’ve heard that for those who wanted to feel the place more, visit Dimaluan Beach just few minutes away from Alona because the later is really crowded with a lot of foreigners. There’s no entrance fee to pay so feel free to wade into the crystal clear water.

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I was so happen to be lucky that night because I got a free dinner from Ricardo and Vivian RestoBar with grilled big prawns and large red fish (Forgot the name). The food were seriously seriously great so I highly recommend trying this restobar. It’s truly worth your money!

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It’s just great to end a travel in a beach. While it relaxes your body, it gives you time to think about how the days had gone so fast and how well you did to accomplish and bring back another set of time in your life.

Catching the silence of wharf in Cordova, Cebu

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From Cebu City, it took us less than 45 minutes to travel the place. The wharf, which is popularly known as ‘roro’ by the locals, is in the somehow secluded area of Municipality of Cordova where the road is in heavy traffic because of the public market alongside it. So for anyone who wanted to catch the sunset, go to the area at around 4PM so you can still manage to calm down and relax when you set up your stuffs.

I took the photo at 6:05PM when the sun has already set and the rays has burst its light behind the clouds of the sky. With an aperture of f/16 and shutter speed of 4 seconds at ISO-200, the stagnant boat (subject) and all the other object were captured in silhouette while taking only enough light to lighten up the background and at the same time, reduce the noise in the water surface.

As a result, I just captured a deafening moment of the wharf in Cordova where the boat just took their rest from a long-day work. It brings me then to the reality that at times, we have to rest from work. We all thought that after office hours will be our freedom from it but the truth is, while on bed, we still think about work.

It has been my note to self to take a break once every month, as influenced by words of Robert Kiyosaki, to reflect on what has been done for the past days and look at the future as how I wanted it to become. It helps to rejuvenate my mind and reset the negative thoughts that circling around me to start a brand new day. It’s like offloading the baggages that we carry for so long to fly with the wind as what life should be.

That is why I also engage myself to travelling alone. It gives me time to have my own time. And live a day from my own life… because taking a short break brings somebody to his peaceful life.

Philex Petroleum Corp: Why I bought some stocks

Since Monday, I was eagerly shopping for a nice buy in the Philippine Stock Market hoping to obtain the lowest price asset in its downtrend. Some colleagues would often ask me what am I busy about but I just refuse to answer because I did’t want to shift my focus to other things than the stock. And just this morning, I believe I have found what I’ve been looking for – the Philex Petroleum Corp (PXP:PM).

Just a little background, it is an oil exploration company owning participation interests in several service contracts in the Philippines (Source: Bloomberg). It is a 64.79%-owned subsidiary of Philex Mining Corporation, a mining corporation and a pioneer in oil and gas exploration in the Philippines (Source: BPI). Therefore, one of its board members is Manny V. Pangilinan and for that reason why I have more confidence in choosing PXP despite losses incurred for the past 2 years. In fact, the significant drop in price per share could have been due to this sequential losses. I only have faith that they’ll bounce back.

So what really made me decide to buy stocks in PXP?

Well, I actually knew few fundamental things about stock trading because I’m still learning all the other stuff about it. So please bear with my analysis and if you have feedback to share, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment. Anyway, in looking at assets to buy, the first thing I check is how low the stock price could have been and how high is its potential to grow in 52-week timeframe versus the current market price. Through this, I will easily identify if the current market price is low enough to be bought. In the same way, I will easily compute the potential profit from it by looking at how high the growth could possibly be.

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In the screenshot above (from Bloomberg), PXP’s lowest price per share in 52-week range is PHP 1.88 while its potential could grow to as high as PHP 10.42. The current market price is ranging from PHP 1.95 to PHP 2.11 as of April 17, whispering to my ear to buy stocks at this lower range. Whereas the selling point here is possibly in between of that 52-week range. Therefore, in case the price per share of PXP grew to, let’s say, PHP 5.00 and you bough the stock for only PHP 2.00, you’ll have 150% return on investment in less than a year.

So how do I know that the price per share will go up when the trend continuously drop?

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The screenshot above is the 52-week month-on-month chart of PXP which obviously shows a significant downtrend in price per share. However, looking at the Relative Strength Index (RSI) of the asset, it actually shows that the demand for it goes higher making it marked ‘Oversold’. And as far as I understand the concept of RSI, it helps determine when a stock price will go up and down (though, of course, there are a lot of forces to consider). When an asset is said to be ‘oversold’, there’s a greater chance of correcting its price, as in a tendency to make it higher than the current one to match with the current demand. Just think of the concept of supply and demand; when demand goes up with low supply, most likely, the price goes up, ceteris paribus. Similarly with PXP, I believe that the high demand to this asset will later on turn the current market price into huge win!

And I am willing to wait for that moment to come. So help me God.

‘Plunging’ into the City of Majestic Waterfalls, Iligan

IMG_1480When I decided to spend holy week in Iligan City, some of my colleagues started to question my decision to do so. I never had my first out-of-my-comfort-zone very long solo travel in Mindanao. However, I will not know if I never try. So I did despite frowns I receive, despite advices purely unsolicited and despite receiving so many likes of “sigurado-ka-ba?” interrogatives (are your sure?).

The concern is that Iligan City is in Northern Mindanao, a place thought of as red to security warnings. However, I’ve been reading couple of blogs and some of solo travel in that place and all of them just enjoyed their entire adventure appeasing that my decision concerns nothing but my interest to explore the place, meet the locals and be a proof that not the entire Mindanao is a red flag to travelers.

(Please bear with the quality of the photos. I’m still learning the proper way of taking good shots.)

At 11:30PM of Holy Wednesday, I commuted a 7-hour trip going to Cagayan de Oro via Rural Transit Bus from Davao City Ecoland Terminal (Fare: PHP600.00). I arrived in Agora Terminal at around six o’clock in the morning of Maundy Thursday. That was my first step in the City of Golden Friendship – so never hesitate to ask for directions and other stuff as the locals are friendly enough to accommodate your inquiries. After a smiling lola helped me out for my next stop, I rode a multicab going to Bulua Terminal for 15 minutes (Fare: PHP12.00). From Bulua Terminal, I travelled another two hours going to Iligan City via the Super Five Bus that travels every 30 minutes or less regardless of number of passengers (Fare: PHP115.00).

While on my way, there are different industrial companies I passed by including a construction cement factory, Minola Oil, San Miguel Agribusiness, gasoline depots etc. which gave me an impression that when these big companies trusted their businesses in this place, the place must have positively shown factors to the formula and that includes better security. From that time, I know the place I was visiting was far way different from most of people thought of towards Mindanao.

IMG_1483In less than ten hours, I had my first step forward to the City of Majestic Waterfalls that houses 23 waterfalls in all. A manong guard noticed that I was alone with my big orange backpack and immediately asked me if I am going to the famous Maria Cristina Falls and I said yes with a grin. He confirmed the direction I got from a friend, Joe who already visited the falls alone, and so I rode the jeep going to the Market and old Gaisano Mall (Don’t be confused because there’s a Gaisano Mall you’ll pass by first before reaching the old one) (Fare: PHP7.00). From there, I rode another jeepney with “Buruun” signboard going to Agus VI (Fare: PHP12.00). The landmark my friend gave me was right after a red-colored bridge that got me confused because I perceived it as orange. :)

The city is just like Davao – Very clean, feels safe, no high-rise buildings, widened concrete roads, laid-back, relax, humid, etc. And I’ve learned from a local that just like Davao (again), it’s a lone district by not being part of a provincial government although geographically, it is part of Lanao del Norte which means that the city is a productive progressive LGU that can stand alone economically and politically. No wonder why the late President Diosdado Macapagal and his daughter, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and their family stayed for a while in this truly majestic city. (Their ancestral house is open for public, supervised by a very accommodating Tatay Virgilio Varquez). PS: PGMA’s painting of herself is a must-see!

Immediately after drop off in Agus VI, a habal-habal driver (Jeffrey Sasil, Contact Number: 09061079565) approached me to offer tour to the three famous waterfalls plus sidetrips for PHP500.00 only (includes going back to bus terminal to CDO). He knows the city so well to make your adventure sulit! Most of the infos and stories I got (including some of those mentioned above) were from him.

Finally, after a much-fulfilling land-trip travel, I reached the famous second-highest waterfalls in the Philippines, the beautiful Maria Cristina Falls.

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It is housed by the National Power Corporation (NPC) Nature Park in a vast land area with entrance fee of PHP 35.00 for non-students. Maria Cristina Falls has been the source of electricity to majority of city’s industries and local men.

While watching the water fall down from the Agus River, I remember how funny it was when I told my classmates in second grade that the post-card they hold wasn’t Maria Cristina Falls but a big fish fell down from a huge rock. I can still remember how the post-card really looks like in my mind. Anyway, I just can’t have a wider cleaner view of the falls because of the NPC infrastructure put up in front of the falls so it really is a great effort for some photographers to have a distinct shot for this ever beautiful falls.

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After that, I just quickly visited the ancestral house of PGMA and then I headed to the majestic Tinago Falls. The way to this falls was quite challenging mainly due to the 365 big big steps down. It was truly like a hiding place, as the name of the falls was coined from. However, this majestic falls is truly worth the effort and time. The clear blue cold 65-feet deep water is simply refreshing and kayak is a must-try! There is a fee of PHP25.00 for the life vest and additional PHP75.00 for the table. The guide is optional with no fix fee but for a lone traveler, they’ll be a good help especially when taking your photos and taking care of your belongings while enjoying the experience in the falls. (My guides were Benjan and Raymark, 19 and 14 years old.)

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My next stop was Mimbalut Falls which is just near Tinago. What I love about this falls are the stone formation just perfect for photography. It’s just kind of difficult to set up in the area especially when you don’t pay the entrance fee of PHP50.00. :) Though it’s still legal to not pay because there is a way on the left side going to the falls. (Thanks to my driver for letting me know!)

Do not forget to have a lunch in Gloria’s lechon! Their pork lechon is simply sinful! Before I end my trip in Iligan City, we quickly passed by the city hall on top of a hill.

The next day, Good Friday, I spent the morning doing my stations of the cross in Malasag CDO. It’s going uphill until you reach the small chapel on top. The locals always visit the place to have their own station of the cross on lent season. Just ask the habal driver to drop you off of the place, in case you wanted to visit (Fare: PHP50.00)

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On the afternoon, one of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Miraculous Shrine of Divine Mercy in El Salvador City. It is where the miracle of the dancing sun happened last April 7, 2013, the date declared by Pope John Paull II as the feast of Divine Mercy. It is said to be the new century of time of Fatima when the dancing sun also appeared. The place is filled with devotees regardless of time of the day. I thought by sunset time, there’ll be lesser people yet it turned out the opposite. In fact, the people were putting blankets in the meadow to spend the rest of the night in front of the Divine Mercy statue. The place feels really like a holy one. I spent almost 7 hours just strolling around the place and never get bored, just perfect for the pilgrims to meditate this lenten season. For more info on the miracle of the Divine Mercy Hills, click here for the link of the video and be blessed.

To get there, from Bulua Terminal CDO (the same terminal I rode the bus going to Iligan City), ride a jeepney going to El Salvador City. Just tell the driver that you are going to the Divine Mercy Shrine (Fare: PHP20.00).

Now that I’m back in Davao, all I can feel is gratefulness that I never doubted myself in visiting the place. It truly is an amazing experience to step in a strange place and know for a fact that you survive living in there even for a shorter period. Sometimes, we just have to get out of our comfort zone to experience more to life than leisure. Aside from the beautiful scenics I encounter, what truly makes a travel worth is by engaging oneself to its people because they embody the life on it. They are the mirror of what’s deep inside the city in terms of culture, lifestyle, etc. I’ve learned so many things about Iligan and El Salvador City, as I mentioned and enumerated previously. Therefore, I personally say that these two cities are absolutely a livable city. Forget about the security concerns that most of people will tell you because in the first place and for all we know, they’ve never been to these majestic places.

PS: I realized about writing on a separate post about Mindanao from a Manileño perspective as I experienced living in this region for almost two years already.

– The guy with an orange backpack.

I made it happen. #Puso

I ‘m on the third row right from top. :)

At the President’s Elite Awards Night of Johnson & Johnson Philippines held last February 24th, the photo above is my only attendance due to, sadly, chicken pox. I was diagnosed when I was already in the hotel where the activities were held at. (PS: You better go to healthway clinic in Shang Plaza, just across the hotel, because the consultation fee is so so so expensive!!)

Anyway, my first year in pharmaceutical selling went well. Thanks to my (previous) boss for helping me achieve my numbers despite all the hardships and hurdles. He knows exactly how my first year started and how I was so depressed getting negative feedbacks from the big bosses. Thankfully, my boss kept his faith and trust to me allowing me to dig deeper to find out the kind of salesperson I am and therefore letting me soar higher.

I remember last year, I wrote about my goal of exactly what really just happened now entitled ‘Make It Happen‘. It was after our kick off meeting in Cebu where the whole team was then complete. We were all positive that we will make an impact and through cooperation and team work, we will make our goals a reality. Suffice to say, the entire team made it!

We made it happen!

For this year with the new boss and new teammates, I am optimistic that I will deliver the number with another siginificant growth. I know hardwork pays off and although I started the year falling short, the end is still far from reality and I am positive that it will turn around in my favor, of course with enough effort, determination and dedication in everything I do.

Although I have admitted how I hated the doctors as customers, I still look forward to  a better customer service for them. I know I am so palpak in terms of customer service but it is something I am working very hard to improve on and develop. I should deliver a better service because the patients need a product like mine – best quality, highly effective and safer than the rest. This year, I just wanted to focus on my potential patients through my doctors. And will work really hard to develop patient-centered approach in dealing with the customers.

This year, it’ll be all about touching lives, as the context of our credo – concern to patients, the doctors, and countrymen by delivering a product best for them. Sabi nga ng Gilas Pilipinas, “Puso!” 

Trip to Bukidnon and how we landed to a place where everybody is afraid of

It was a sunny beautiful morning of February 19, the start of the year in Chinese calendar, when I, Cy, Jen, Henry and Vince decided to had a road trip up to Bukidnon’s Mutuan Peak in Maramag. It was eight in the morning when we traverse the BuDa Road (Bukidnon-Davao Road) to have our first stop at the Seagull Mountain Resort and have the ‘Suman’ (Sticky Rice) and native hot choco for our breakfast, just perfect for the foggy weather which I believed is at around 15 to 20 degree celsius. (But, no suman is available by that time). It was 9:00 in the morning, then. After having a little mobile signal, wazed calculated another an hour drive to Maramag Mutuan Peak — so we decided to go on.

It was all our first time to traverse the road to Bukidnon. Usually, I only reached up to Seagull so we really have no idea what’s on towards the road. Because of that, we made fun of the place of Mamasapano as resemblance to where we currently are. And you know what’s next after that. Regardless, I drove and we all witnessed the beautiful mountainous sceneries of Bukidnon. (Apologies for very few shots here because I was the one driving and maybe, was the one who truly appreciate most the nature in the group). I was personally in awe after passing by portion of Mindanao that is truly rich and raw. At around 11, we saw a DPWH-sponsored overview structure in Quezon, in which we had the chance to see on top the wider scenic of Bukidnon as in the picture below.

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We thought that we were near Maramag and so we kept on looking for a place, a meadow with mountain ranges on the background, to have our lunch. But it took us another 45 minutes before we had our lunch and not in any place we thought we should have been but in a spring resort named ‘RR Family Spring Resort’. We never had the chance to see Mutuan Peak due to our miscalculations in travel time. Instead, at 1:30 in the afternoon, we just stayed in the spring resort and had our happy time. Overall, we travelled at least 150 kilometers from Davao City with travel period of at least three hours scraping the stopovers.

Thinking that it will only take us another three hours to go back to Davao City, we left the resort at around 3:30 in the afternoon drunk and ‘crazy’. Though a little sober, I drove at 80-120kph to ensure that we’ll be back before twilight because at the peak of Buda Road is zero visibility. Plus, number of accidents have been recorded in the past few months where recently was a heavy-loaded truck sweep off of the lane cliff hanging. (PS: I was actually more excited to see the sunset on the road).

The five of us were really having a good time traveling back, traversing the same path we earlier passed by. I did overspeed while my friends record a video of our ‘Good Life by One Republic’. On the hype of that, I was trying to overtake the truck in front of me when, with no signaling at all on their side, the truck leaned on to its right where I was fast approaching at 120kph. All of a sudden all of us where awoke from somberness. We were safe, shocked but still manage to calm down. At that moment, I know my friends were already in their normal state of mind. So do I.

We thought that we could continue the ‘good life’ we were on that ride until I started to notice the goldenness of the sceneries we were passing by at around 4:15 in the afternoon. It was truly like a paradise. It was very peaceful and very few people are in there. I kept on telling my friends that we should have stayed there for lunch. There are meadows with clear views of down below valleys and plains. The rays of the slowly setting sun shed the whole place into a golden haven. If not only because of constraint on our time, we could have approved a one last stopover. The roads are concrete yet we are the only vehicle present at that very moment. Only us.

We now wonder, ‘have we ever been in this place?’ In my thought, the place is far way better and more beautiful than any road trips I ever had. Yet, how come we were on that place if we’ll just cross the same road we passed by from Davao to Bukidnon? We started to doubt ourselves.

At 4:45 in the afternoon in a seemingly remote town of Kibawe, we asked a local if we were on the right way to Davao City. There is good and bad news in her answer. The good news is she confirmed that we are towards Davao City, however, traversing the Bukidnon-Cotabato Road, thus the bad news. It was a bad news for all of us because it was North Cotabato where we all thought the MILF, BIFF and other Bangsamoro anti-government groups established their territory. It was a bad news because most of our phones were drained. It was a bad news because mobile signal was weak in the area. And it was ultimately a bad news because the sun was already setting.

If we go back to Bukidnon, we will travel over a dark place on top of the mountain, most likely a zero visibility due to thick fogs. Otherwise, we go on and take the chances of hitting the town of Kabacan before twilight. Finally with an hour left before six in the evening, our plan was the later to avoid being trapped at night in the mountainous area. I remembered driving at 100 to 140kph to made our goal. For a moment, nobody was talking. I was making myself calm because I was the one driving and should not show nervousness to my colleagues so there’s no mutual feelings. I tried to escape what’s deep inside by enjoying the awesome paradise we just lost at. There, I realized how truly beautiful Mindanao is. I might not have photographs with me but I can clearly imagine what my eyes perceived throughout that journey.

The light from the sun has been dimming when we reached a beautiful bridge over a river, connecting the town of Carmen to Kabacan. There’s nothing to feel than be amazed with how beautiful the rays of the sun painted the bridge and the wide river and how the fire sky reflected in the clear water. It was totally an unforgettable experience to pass by that bridge at that very moment. I then learned later that night that the river we just passed by was Rio Grande, the second largest River in the Philippines next to Cagayan River of Luzon.

Few minutes before six in the evening, we reached Kabacan and have ourselves a quick pee break and to pee out as well the tension we all felt. But it isn’t over yet. We have to reach Kidapawan City the earliest possible time passing by the town of Matalam because we actually don’t know how the city is at night. Some of us have been there but not experience a life at night. Later, we reached the towns of Makilala, Bansalan and Digos. Only after hitting Digos City when I totally told myself that we were way safer now. Thirty minutes pass eight when we finally, safely and peacefully reached Davao City. That was more or less a five-hour drive of more than 250 kilometers – it’s actually an additional of 100 kilometers over the original route, plus breath-taking suspense. Below is the map of our long and winding road trip with blue lines as our en route to Bukidnon and the red where we lost our way.

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Indeed, it was a very long day for the five of us. It entailed a roller coaster feeling of happiness, enjoyment, craziness, excitement, shock, tense, nervousness, fright and all others in between. After all, we all have the badge like a Guinness record of traveling Davao-Bukidnon-Cotabato in all same day.

After that day, we’d like to think that it was God’s way of shifting our route to a ‘safer’ one knowing what great risk it could have been driving in Buda road following simultaneous tragedies. On the other hand, it was a way for us to see the beauty unfolds in North Cotabato. It’s actually unfair as well to not appreciate that paradise only because it has a name Cotabato. Just like how we appreciate it before we realized we were lost to a place we thought was a zone of danger. After that journey, it made me changed my perspective about the place. While it’s true that there are anti-government present in the said province, we cannot underrate the fact that it houses a paradise.

The hope we see in our Pope

In a pre-dominatly Catholic societies like the Philippines, 2015 has started by declaring it by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as the ‘Year of the Poor’. Indeed, ever since Pope Francis became a Pontiff, the care for the poor and the needy has been the subject of his missions – and that includes his visit to the Philippines especially to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban. His experiences from the past has truly shaped his life centering to the poor and the marginalized. And that way of life has been inspiring many lives all over the world regardless of religion, class, and race.

It’s kind of unfortunate on my part to haven’t seen the Pope in person while I am outside Manila. Worst is that I can’t focus watching the live streaming of the entire 5-day visit while doing my work loads. It’s either I left my work for a moment, which I have done often, or missed this historic moment in the Philippine soil. So definitely, I depend my observations through the social media. And the warm crowd all my countrymen has shown from his arrival up to his last mass in the Rizal Park has brought back my faith in humanity of the Filipino people and brought back hope that the Philippines can do become a better society.

The moment I saw Pope Francis in the window of the Sri Lankan Airline that brought him safe in the Philippines, I started to feel amazed and wowed. Tumayo balahibo ko and even more when he went down the plane and started his short journey that tremendously changed so many hopeless lives of people.

I know many of us have felt the same way too. His presence gives a lighter feeling that we almost forgot our shortcomings. In his motorcades where pope mobile drives at around 20kph, I have read facebook posts and tweets saying that all their waiting is worth it even though they just saw the pope in more or less 3 seconds. People felt blessed seeing the Pope. So do I. His closeness to the mass and to the children and elders, his simple gestures of hugs and kisses shows his very sincere care to the people, to God’s people – calling him the People’s Pope.

Many of the people have come from different walks of life. Every people has their own unique stories to tell. Pope’s meeting with the families, the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, and the youth have testified God’s greatness to the faithful. Their stories have inspire many to never lose hope especially those who feel weak and abandoned. Even Pope Francis sees hope to all of us when he says that…

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The Pope wants all of us to keep the faith to God and continue the hope lit on fire. His visit reminds us that God never left us. We may have faced so many trials in the past years and have questions left unanswered but God’s faithfulness to us have never vanished. Pope Francis reminds us that just like him, many people still care for the people who have already lost their purpose to live, those who are burdened and felt abandoned.

And as people find hope in him, I found hope that collectively, little by little, people will discover their ways to help themselves. Little by little, the government will discover their ways to help the people in need most. And little by little, each of us will discover ways to help in the society and contribute for the greater good. And soon, Philippines will be a better place.

Credit to rappler.com for the photo.