8 hours Cotabato experience

Published August 20, 2007

Originally published at: https://web.archive.org/web/20080213092440/http://tanjonathanvincent.wordpress.com/2007/08/

It started when I woke up in the morning. 6am to be exact. I hurriedly ate my breakfast because I’m too excited to experience and see Tacurong for the 1st time. My mom and I went to the office to wait for transportation. As we started the long journey to Cotabato, I started to wonder what it feels like to be there. Especially to the people in that community.

As we passed the usual place like Toril, Puan and etc., the long road trip begins. We stopped at Sta. Cruz to eat breakfast. I remembered in Cagayan where the kids asked for money. The food there is exceptional, it’s like eating at Luz Kinilaw Place.

After eating breakfast, we continued the long journey. Along the way, we encountered a lot of checkpoints. Mindanao is extending their security measures against armed rebels; to name a few are Abu Sayyaf, Jamaa Islamia and Al-Queda.

Upon entering Makilala, North Cotabato, the scenery is great specially on the mountain sides. But the sad thing is, it’s Muslim territory. We passed Makilala and now entering Datu Paglas. What stumbled me in that place is child labor. As little as two or three years old, learns to carry two pieces of green bananas, big ones in particular. I can’t imagine child labor is present in that place. No matter how the government fights for child labor, it’s still present in that area.

Kuya Tony told me about the place where the 1973-79 ambush took place. He told us too about the creaks and holes on the road. Those where purposely done to steal motorcycles. When someone stumbles on the creaks, someone “will hit you in the head with a steel pipe.” After that, your motorcycle is gone.

Upon leaving Datu Paglas, we encountered zig-zag on the road and checkpoints are present on the place. Upon reaching the borderline of Sultan Kudarat, I felt a relief because the place is safe. Actually Sultan Kudarat is composed of different tribes like Muslims, Christians, Catholics(?), Ilocanos, and etc.

We reached Tacurong, the destined place and went directly to Notre Dame of Tacurong. It’s my first time in the school and the place is huge. A combination of elementary, high school and college. I strolled on the school and I find the school to be fine. They have basketball, volleyball, soccer and baseball. I never knew baseball exist in Tacurong. Mom told me that Cotabato is the best when it comes to sports. I see Notre Dame the same as San Carlos. Valuing sports at the same time education or academic standing. I have a classmate from Notre Dame of Lagao, the sister school of Notre Dame of Tacurong. She actually out-passes me, a Marisian. She’s a dean’s lister while I’m not. I can’t believe it. But anyway, as I strolled, I saw some clubs that are familiar to me like JPIA, BIL and PSITS. I went directly to the basketball court and watched 3 boys playing horse. I imagined that their basketball court would be hard wood but it’s concrete, concrete that is beautifully painted. Lunch time came and I hurriedly went back to the meeting place. To my surprise, pork never existed in that place so, I was forced to eat vegetable but a relief to me is the native chicken. I like the taste so much that I asked my mom’s share and finished it. So guys, if you want to be cool and clean, live in Tacurong. No pork, no cholesterol. After eating, we went to the factory of Muscovado sugar. We went first to Madriaga’s place. We caught a glimpse on how Muscovado sugar is made. They were cooking and at the same time drying the sugar. I took pictures on the motor, the basin, the cooking place and of course the sugar when it’s wet, sticky and almost dry. I want to experience what is feels like to dry a sugar but a bumble bee came and I accidentally hit my hand on the ceiling that caused a small wound. I try to inspect the ceiling for possible nails that can cause tetanus but luckily, there were none. After visiting there, we went to Quirino for another Muscovado sugar factory. The place made candies and at the same time the sugar but to my surprise, grease leaks at the same time with the sugar juice so I was wondering if the candy has grease in it. The place too is laiden with cobwebs and dust. The VA made suggestions regarding the place and the equipment. Another one suggested to clean the place because of the cobwebs. After there, we proceed to San Pedro. In that place, we saw modernized equipment and machinery except of course to the carabao. All the things there were made of stainless steel. They talked about the plans on that place but I didn’t bother to listen. I just took pictures of the place. When it’s time to go, they gave us some Muscovado sugars as tokens. After there, we went back to Notre Dame to fetch Kuya Tony and the road trip back to Davao.

My realization? I’m lucky enough to where I’m standing now. Some people don’t have computers in there homes. Some people were brought to school by Muscovado sugar. I hope I could help them. I wish I could. It’s a good thing if the school would extend the community service or known as NSTP/CWTS to that place because there are a lot of people in need in that place. I hope too that the government would do something about it. I know they are doing what they could but would you extend it more??

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