Blissful in half-paradise Talaingod

March 25 looked like a grand sunny Sunday when we left Davao City a little past 6.a.m. Ca, Gigs, Herms and I were heading for Talaingod —one rustic town along the border of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. (Distance: approx. three hours by car northeast from Davao City.)

The trip was not meant to be an excursion. We planned to see for ourselves the situation of some evacuees in the town’s remote villages who reportedly fled their homes for fear of being hit in the encounter between government forces and the New Peoples Army.

When we arrived in the area, the sun has evaded us. We did not even reach the evacuation site across rivers and narrow, if not slippery pediroads.

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The weather did not cooperate well. He sent rain to block us from Barangay Dagohoy’s hill villages.

Of course we have to seek safety first.

Anyway, we have to do what we have to do. We managed to get this story and this story.
Along with it, we managed to squeeze hurried stops and snapshots. It was a Sunday and I just wanted to assert my right to self-determination. I meant that even if I get soaked in the rain, and slip in muddy ground — at least I choose to do it. Yabag!

Indeed looking at nature gives a wanderer his prize. Turning to open spaces – verdant horizons – introduced me to a sanctuary. You can talk to it and it will talk back —try feeling the cold mist and the eye-catching movements of the distant trees.

Even the chirping of the birds, they are simply too hard to ignore. Even the fact that you are standing there atop a hill just staring at nature’s nakedness – its a priceless opportunity.

wib-tala3.jpgThe Talaingod countryside, despite the turmoil it is known for what with the reputation of creeping insurgency and age-old poverty, is BEAUTIFUL.

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What a waste that the poor could not fully use God’s blessings because of the hostilities and a history of government neglect.

If only Talaingod can come out from its troubled peace and order situation, I’m sure it has a big tourism potential. I think it is perception on one side and refusal for some interest groups to break through, on the other.

The deafening silence of the town, dubious for a stranger like me, could be a good quality tourists and advocates could look for even only to those who decided to escape city noise and impurities.

Of course the silence could show a lot.

The town has been subjected to extensive militarization in the last few years owing to the so-called insurgency problem. In September 2000, the NPA killed then Mayor Jose Libayao, husband of now mayor, Pilar.

In 2005, the NPA also reportedly burned construction equipment of the road project connecting Davao del Norte to Bukidnon.

The military have sinced considered the area as “NPA infested” brushing a negative image to the impoverished town.

Amid these conditions, however, I hope community leaders in Talaingod take a stronger stance against unpeace and finally break free from its jaded past.

Now that seems a difficult and tall order.

Mayor Libayao told MindaNews last month she can only do as far as her people can do. “If its already about the military operations, I have no control,” she said matter of factly.

I actually left Talaingod with a half-baked piece of cake wecan call uncertainty. Such a beautiful country. Such uncertainty. Half-paradise.

(Photos taken at the Talaingod Municipal Hall grounds, atop a hill overlooking the quaint and inviting scenery of this mountainside town.)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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