Note from P3 Curator: This article is in reaction to today's article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled 'US cable likens Mindanao to Afghanistan'. As Filipinos, we have a duty to defend our Mindanaoan brothers and sisters. Negative PR affects them greatly through tourism employment, investments, and basic self-esteem. Do not allow foreign entities to speak ill of such a beautiful region of our country. Uplift them and spread positivity.
Support soxbloggers.com, a group of Mindanaoan bloggers with an advocacy to re-brand Mindanao from the negative image it receives from both local and international press.
Enjoy this article by Lynette Eugenio.
For most people who want to travel and see Mindanao for the first time, I understand your anxiety and concern. I have always lived my entire life in mega-Manila up until ten years ago and I also have the same connotations about Mindanao as you have. So let me share with you my thoughts on those misconceptions…
Nalus Falls, Kiamba, Saranggani Province
• First off, Mindanao is an island as diverse in religion, people and sceneries as it is in Luzon or the Visayas. There are places here with constituents who are purely Muslim in religion but that does not cover the whole island entirely. It’s funny when you refer to the island as “Muslim Mindanao” when people here are not only classified according to their beliefs. There are a number of Ilokanos, Ilonggos, Kapampangans, Cebuanos among others who also live here. Some are Catholic Ilonggos, some Protestant Ilokanos and some Muslim Manilenyas to mention a few.
• One funny question someone asked me in Manila was “Do I need to wear a burqa?” A burqa or burqua is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding a female's body when out in public (from the wikipedia). It is an attire for women usually worn by the conservative Muslim believer. If you are not Muslim, then I don’t think you need to be seen in a burqa when you tour the island.
A T'boli boy fishing in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
• Often the news tend to “generalize” referring to the entire island as chaotic. Like I said earlier, it is a big island so there might be places that are indeed not suitable for tourists but please spare the rest of the other towns and cities here since most are generally peaceful. (PM me for places you shouldn’t wander off to- there are just a few of them promise)
Harvest time at Kiamba, Saranggani Province
• Kidnappings that happened here are isolated cases and can happen anywhere else in the world if you are a highly “kidnap-able” person yourself. If you are a foreigner visiting Mindanao for the first time, it’s always best to tour the island with a local or hire a qualified tour guide so you don’t accidentally go to the places that are classified “hot spots”. Other than that, relax and enjoy your time here.
• Bombings are works of terrorists in any given place in the world. Its just sad for us if it happens to any of the peaceful places here. After all, the reason these terrorists are so called is because they want to spread a feeling of “terror” thereby instilling an atmosphere of fear among the people living in the area. Sometimes it is a form of “economic sabotage”. So unless you want them to succeed, then I don’t see why you should get scared of these acts. It’s time for us to put more trust in our local police force. For them to do their job to prevent these kind of events to happen. Mindanaoans are not happy when these things happen here as well. So please spare us the tag “bombing capital of the country”. I don’t think Mindanao deserves that.
• You don’t need to bring your firearms or bulletproof vests when you visit Mindanao. Don’t worry, the news reported a military encounter that happened in a place here in the island, but did you take note where exactly that is? Did you also hear about a military encounter in a province in Luzon laden with NPA rebels? Or a siege in the Gaza strip? Unless you are going to those exact places, then I think the only thing you should arm yourself with when you go here is your camera packed with extra batteries.
Lake Sebu Falls No. 2
If you are a fellow countryman, don’t you think it a bit odd, that foreigners seem to know a lot more about this beautiful island Mindanao than you do? Don’t you think you should come visit and see for yourself first what this deep rooted misconception is, about an island you’ve never even set foot on? Its just a bit disheartening hearing a lot of these misconceptions coming from people you share the same nationality with.
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