Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finding Shangri-La

Haven't you had this determination to see or have something? I'm sure we all have a virtual laundry list of desires. Everything from riches to a relationship to respect to power. So that's fairly normal.

Now can we remember what were our earliest desires in life? Back before college graduation, before puberty, even before our tween years. Well I can. I've always wanted in my heart of hearts to go to Davao. Really.

Sounds mundane but I have always had this fascination for Davao. It's not for the durian (which is always always good), the bananas, the pomelos, the waling-waling or whatever. It has always been for the idea of being in the place called Davao. True, my dad and sis' work with the airlines had afforded me to see many parts of the civilized world but I have always wished to set foot in Davao.

Well, my wishes were granted when the office arranged for an Outreach in 2005. We stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel, the best hotel in the city. But I was so disappointed: my decades long dream came true but it didn't feel at all special that time. Yes, I had my fill of durian and pomelo and marang (thank you God for this fruit!) and mangosteen and tuna belly and...well, you get the picture. Of course, the breakfast buffet at the hotel was just incredible (que sabroso!) but still no fireworks - unless you consider the flatulence after particularly large meals. I had the same feeling when I returned twice after for merchant events. I really couldn't understand why after wishing for so long that the experience was such a let-down.

This last trip however was different. A colleague and I decided to fly in General Santos City to visit KCC and Fit Mart Malls then commute to Davao after. We finished the work at around 3 PM so we went straight to the bus terminal to catch a Yellow Bus to Davao.

(Please see following blog-rant)

We opted to wait for the direct bus to Davao. Most of the other rides had one or two stops before the city, adding hours to an already three-hour road ride. Most stop in Digos, capital of Davao Sur while others were headed up the Muslim north like Cotabato, Koronadal, Magunidanao. If it weren't for Bonamine (God bless Meclizine MCL), these trips will never be for me. Or else, I would be busy mopping up today's lunch off the bus aisle or myself.

We finally got on our bus after depositing my very large rolling luggage. I usually travel with a large soft-sided rolling suitcase so I can check-in as many of our electronic equipment and merchandising material as possible then haul back as much pasalubong home. I just make sure I have at least five large garbage bags and a number of medium sized zip lock bags to wrap my essentials in. Remember, provincial airports are nothing more than (barely) airconditioned waiting sheds with no protection from the elements and luggage are usually left to drench during collection. And believe me, the stench of daing na palad/pusit/isda doesn't easily wash out from your clothes. So wrap them tight, making sure all the air is squeezed out of the bags. A roll of packing tape comes in handy, too.

Back to the trip. My mom trained her kids to be able to sleep as soon as our backs hit padding material. So true to form, I was snoring (and I do emphasize the snoring part) just as soon as the bus crossed left the second bus stop in the city.

I woke when I felt my head violently swaying from side to side. We were on the zig-zag descending towards the plains of Davao Sur. And just on time, I thought. The vista slowly unfolded as we would take a zig then a zag. The valley below was like a lush green carpet, no, a big lush green shag carpet. Trees, bushes and shrubs as far as the eye can see, arranged seemingly haphazardly. It was like wave upon undulating wave of agricultural success, neatly arranged in farm squares. I just wish it was offset by virgin forest.

This was the blessing of the gods: a temperate climate and away from the typhoon belt. Trees that have never been bent nor denuded by strong winds not swept away by floods or mudflows. At last, found my Shangri-La.

P.S. It has been recently tainted by the knowledge that the insecticide/miticide used to kill giant spiders that live among the banana trees is also slowly killing farm workers.

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