This blog starts our two- week long Christmas Vacation for 2016. Even I cannot picture out how we survived by far the longest trip we had as a family.
The blue line shows how far we went for the sake of travel and most importantly, visiting relatives.
From Cebu, we visited relatives in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. Staying in this small and peaceful town was very different from our life in the city. We whiled away two days of tranquillity by staying here. Our highlight was the visit to Hindag-an Falls, just a mere 30 minute trike drive from St. Bernard.
It was the rainy season hence the water was overflowing and freezing!
And after two days we were on our way to Mindanao via the Lilo-an, Southern Leyte- Lipata, Surigao route. From there, we met relatives and found our way to Butuan- a 3 hour ride via Bachelor Bus. Then from Butuan, what I thought was only a 4 hour ride turned up to be a grueling 8 hour ride to the famed city of Davao. If you are bringing a toddler, you would opt out of this scenario since toddlers get cranky if they are not doing anything- adults even get agitated when trapped for 8 hours on a bus. haha. But lucky for us, our little one enjoyed her longest bus ride- some credits we owe to youtube. haha.
Our little one enjoying her bus ride.
Bits and pieces of our Davao side trip.
Meet and greet with the president and PNP chief.haha
The crocs of Davao Crodcodile Park.
Funny and knowledgeable animal show at the Davao Crocodile Park.
Sumptuous dinner at Jacks Ridge with an overlooking view of the city.
After staying for a day in Davao, we were set for Midsayap, North Cotabato to spend Christmas. Another 6 hours of land travel, this time by private vehicle. The road to North Cotabato was exhilarating since we get to pass by the Muslim towns of Tacurong and Makilala at night! From town to town, tales were told of civilian murders, muslim insurgencies and kidnap for ransom stories. I learned that if you pass by these towns, you have to drive fast and windows should always be closed. I was afraid for those military men who were on checkpoint watch when we passed by these towns, which made me think that their job of keeping peace is very heroic and deserves utmost recognition.
We reached the town of Midsayap at 10 pm. The town is small but progressive. Streets are lined with schools and the people are refined. But hours before Christmas, the peaceful town of Midsayap faced a predicament they never expected to happen. A loud blast was heard from where we were staying. The town’s Catholic church was shaken by a grenade blast. Everyone was in a state of panic. That entire time, we kept thinking who could have done such horrendous act? The next day, Christmas Day, we were awaken by the sound of helicopters circling above the town. The place was swarmed with men in fatigue uniforms.And we felt safe.Later we found out that the president had come to assess the situation and visit the victims.
Appeased, we went to see Cotabato City which is an hour away from Midsayap. I got thrilled seeing Islam symbols and the crescent moon in most of the buildings we passed. It’s a rare shot to see these things in reality.
You will know that you are entering Cotabato City once you cross the old, rusty bridge linking the city. The unwelcoming feeling the city emanates makes me want to go back. The place was sad and desolate. Islam symbols are a very common sight. Some buildings have been isolated and destroyed. The streets were lined with stores selling batik malongs, shawls, etc. And most people you see are wearing their hijabs and abayas. We were supposed to look and buy some of their local batiks but we dared not. We watched how the city thrives from the car.
And then we saw something that deviated the city’s despair. There stands at 141 feet tall, the country’s largest mosque. The Sultan Hassal Bolkiah (The Grand Mosque), is such a unique and splendid sight to behold.
Another must see in Cotabato is their city hall.
The next day, we were bound to retrace the route we had. And it would take 12 long hours to retrace those steps. Surigao was supposed to be our last pit stop before we embark on a boat going to Cebu but, impulsivity strikes as we decided to end our adventure by having a little sun and sea from the shores of Siargao Island. =)
For an in depth account of the places mentioned, please see related posts 🙂