"Pit Stop - Asia's Latin City"
My first visit was last October of 2009 and it was the most exciting, full of discoveries. And who doesn't want to consider as it is? I just took the road were armed conflict lies every year and its history were still a bad dream for some.
It was like, a "commute of a lifetime" taking tricycle, Jeep and buses communing with the locale (Muslim, Lumad, etc.) Iligan - CDO - Bukidnon - Davao - Cotabato (Pikit, Midsayap, Tukuran, Pagadian, Ipil and Zamboanga City)
I stayed at one of the members abode (Marlon Grande) of the Youth Organization i represented.
I can say Zamboanga is really the Latin City of the South, i didn't even understand everything on the local news because it was all in "Chavacano".
Side dish: (The Chavacano language is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia. It has survived for more than 400 years, making it one of the oldest creole languages in the world. It is the only language to have developed in the Philippines (a member of Philippine languages) which does not belong to the family of Austronesian languages, although it shows a characteristic common to the sub-classification of Malayo-Polynesian languages, the reduplication. - Wikepedia)
And actually non of their dialects stopped me from exploring the Latin City, Marlon was very kind enough to stroll me around the city with his motorcycle which is the common mode of transportation in the city.
And of course! Food was the main target, we went to Casa Esmeralda were the famous "Nicker Bucker Glory" a heaven's taste halo halo like, the Home-made Barbecues with the city's Alavar's sauce and a lot more local delicacies
We also visited the historical places like Fort Pilar, Plaza Pershing, Paseo del Mar, The century old houses and some structure were huge it feels like time went back and brought me 300+ yrs ago when Spaniards ruled the country.
On the third day Marlon suggested that we visit his hometown Basilan, he thought i would say no for his offer, excitedly i said yes "I want to visit the area" it has been my long dream to see the community, for me to understand what its like living in a place were haunted by Abu Sayyaf and other rebel group, were killling, kidnapping and rido were a lot common.
Going there was through a small boat were you can be with a lot of people some were Malaysian, Muslims, Tausugs, and Christians - and that was the time when i discovered that there is really a back-door going to Malaysia and mind you it is legal! the fare was about P3000 one way through a fast craft under Weesam Express and of course customs are there too to check the validity of the travels.
We arrived in Isabela, the Capital City at 2:00 pm, Marlon's father was there to fetch us and had our Lunch and went to a nearby church and proceeded after to the city town hall.
The town hall stands facing as if it is saying "i am the house of the ruler, respect me and i'll spare you, hmmmm it is a huge structure and at the lobby there were like galleries of the former leaders of the city since time 1940s, i read each one hmmm same last name, same last name, same last name, the fourth was the wife's name and a lot more.. you know what i mean... Anarchy it is :-)
A few minutes before sunset, Marlon's father fetched us to visit Lamitan (at the back of my mind... hmmm this was the place were the siege happened and lot of people were killed) i was actually getting more excited but before hitting the road to Marlon's family we went to the hospital and a nearby church were the actual siege took place.. there were writings on the wall (Chronology of events) which notes the time, the history about the siege and how people were taken as hostages and my eyes just dropped tears and sudden goosebumps and i can't imagine placing myself at the same time the atrocities happened.
Few hours we settle and hit towards Marlon's house, it was like a military compound. Arriving at the area we had Marlon's mom waiting preparing food and know what was served? Tinolang bisayang manok with sayote and Chili bean leaf and i told myself I'm gonna be wet - i am talking a bout sweating, that's me when i so love the food, its like i am in paradise. hehehhe
well, i am looking forward to visit place again i know this would be another experience to cherish and re-candling friendship.
Its Travel time!