I was blessed to be able to celebrate my birthday last year together with close friends who invited me over to visit their relatives who live in CDO. This city, known as the “City of Golden Friendship,” in the Southern Philippines and is considered the “melting pot of Mindanao.” I’ve been here I think at least twice, both on a working trip. The third time around, it was my birthday. Thank God, I listened to my friend, Mae and her wonderful family, who cajoled and convinced me to spend my special day on a one-week vacation with them.
It was October and the weather was a bit tricky because at that time Manila is battered by a storm. When we arrived at the airport we were immediately picked up by one of their relatives and headed to the town in Gimangpang where we’re supposed to stay for the week. My friends boasted that their aunt’s house is just beside the beach. And really I was amazed at how close to nature we were. True enough, when we reached their house, we were greeted by the refreshing sight of the beach.
I’m always attracted to beaches—one gets to sit idly or walk on shorelines and do some earnest contemplation. But for the meantime, my goal was to breathe fresh air, clear my senses and thank the Lord for all the blessings he gave me and for adding another blessed year in my life.
For someone constantly on the go, a moment’s respite is a luxury you would always hanker for. But this time, I have a week. A week to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Life’s simple joys. Just looking at the sea helps wash away the some clutters in the mind and set aright personal perspectives that have been joggled while running towards some unnamed life goal and struggling to keep one’s pace in a hectic schedule, wanting to escape the toxicity of Manila. Wandering outside their house, I was stunned at the proximity of the waters to our hosts’ home.
It’s a rare opportunity to experience how locals in a certain town or city live their everyday lives. So when we joined them for this occasion, we buckled down to work and helped them around preparing for the night’s “feast.” That is because I learned, I’m not the only celebrating birthday. Their aunt too, who we call “mommy,” was also celebrating her birthday! Thanks tita! 🙂
We proceeded to go to a nearby farm to harvest coconuts (buko) for our dessert later. My “aunts” (I feel like I’m an adopted) called for some men to climb the trees to carefully drop the coconut fruits. (Otherwise, we could end up having a bump in our heads or worse meet an accident.) After the fruits were halved and the juice separated, we started scraping the white, succulent flesh which we would be using for the “buko-pandan” salad we’ll be having later.
Afterwards, we headed back to the house and while the rest is busy preparing the food, me and my friend’s sis decided to let our hair down and enjoy the sea breeze.
The next day was a road trip to one of CDO’s popular tourist hideaway. I took some pictures along the way to savor the sights of CDO.
…and here we are at the Gardens of Malasag. An eco-tourism village developed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
It rained heavily the moment we arrived. We had no choice but to stay at the restaurant/lobby were we had some picture-taking…
We tried the hanging bridge…
I don’t know what tree is this, but it had a “mysterious” feel when we saw it.
But we’re still game for some picture-taking…
Truly, the best things in life are free! 🙂