Stay Playful; Travel
The first stop of my Philippine-trip with my fabulous friends Rick and Louis after Manilla, was the island of Mindanao in the south of the archipelago, where Louis grew up and where his family lives.
Insight into Bukidnon Living
After having landed in Davao, the capital of Mindanao, we were picked up by Louis’ father and his best friend, who would drive us to Bukidnon, the region where Louis spent his childhood and where his family still lives, in the centre of the island. It was a good 3-hour drive to the town of Pangantucan, where the family lives in a small house surrounded by a large garden. Besides beautiful plants and flowers, the garden is home to a fair amount of cocks, hens and pigs. Being in idyllic mountainous surroundings, the cocks made a fair amount of noise especially in the middle of the night and at sunrise. Besides chilling at the family house and going to town, we also went to the family house of Louis’ ‘gay mother’, who, like Rick and Louis, lives in Amsterdam with his Dutch husband. Louis ‘gay mother’, Godwin, is also from Bukidnon and had been in the region for several weeks to deal with family matters after a death in the family. His family house is located an hour away in the town of Don Carlos. Louis is from a humble family with modest means. Godwin’s family, however, have done rather well for themselves in business and their family house is located in a large compound, which includes servants’ accommodations. Louis, Rick and I were very warmly welcomed by Godwin, a few members of his large family and staff, who have been working for the family for many years and are treated like own flesh and blood. Godwin showed us around the compound and around the town, that is to get its own airport in a few years, which is expected to give the area a huge boost. We were also invited to the birthday party of one of Godwin’s older brothers. Rick and especially I drew a lot of attention and we were treated like the guests of honour.
Lechon, Spaghetti and Karaoke
Like in many Asian cultures, life very much revolves around food and Filipino culture is no different in that aspect. At the party there was a large buffet, that included a lechon, which is a whole pig on a spit, traditionally served on festive occasions. The family cook, a lovely lady, took the effort to show me around the buffet and explain every dish to me, assuming I wouldn’t be familiar with the typically Filipino dishes. Spaghetti with tomato sauce is considered a typical birthday dish in the Philippines and has to be included in a birthday buffet. Unlike in Europe, in the Philippines it doesn’t seem the custom to bring presents to a birthday party. You just wear your nicest frock, socialise and eat a lot of food. Like food, karaoke is also terribly popular and a party is not complete without it. Filipinos LOVE taking pictures and as Dark Fairies are a very rare species in the region, I received a lot of picture-taking requests, making me feel like some sort of celebrity. After a lot food, talk and picture taking, I hit the karaoke machine, as singing is good for the soul.
After the party we spent the night at Godwin’s family house and were further entertained the next day until the later afternoon, after which Godwin was so kind to drive us back to Pangantucan, Louis’ town.
Despite the negative travel advice and a significant amount of stares, I had a lovely time in Bukidnon, Mindanao and it’s probably one of the most authentic, ‘off-the-beaten-track’ travel experiences I had so far.