Last month, I made an unplanned trip to visit my relatives from my father’s side. All my father’s family and our extended relatives live in Davao, in the south eastern part of Mindanao. We rarely see them, in fact, the last time I was there was during the wedding of an aunt in September 1996, right before I left to study in Japan.
Because it’s a long travel to Davao. Cagayan de Oro City is located on the northern tip of Mindanao island and the mountainous road to Davao takes a butt aching 8 hours of travel provided there is no unfortunate flat tire incidents along the way. There were no planes flying from Cagayan de Oro to Davao way back then. And even if there was, we could never afford it. Travel tend to be expensive when the family is big (we are six siblings!).
I’ve spent a memorable summer there in 1993 when my grandparents visited us in Cagayan de Oro (because they missed their son – my father) and I tagged along with them when they went back to Davao so travel was free! The scenic 8 hour bus trip was unforgettable. I wish I had a camera that time. I loved the vibe of the place when we arrived and the people who are there. Sometimes it feels awkward to visit because people would gather around and ask, is this so and so’s daughter? Oh she’s really grown, etc etc…they are always curious because they rarely see me (us).
My relatives in Davao are very nice people. To them it does not matter whether we visited yesterday or several years ago, we are always welcomed with warm hugs and tears (of joy). What’s best is that my aunts, uncles, cousins, they never bother that I came from ‘abroad’ – there’s this Filipino culture where the relative from abroad spends for everything and obliged (almost) to give “pasalubong” or gifts but my relatives from Davao never ask or imply they want gifts. They’re amazing people who loves us unconditionally and seems to be happy with just our mere presence.
I feel we’ve won the “pick your relative” lottery with our relatives from my father’s side!
So, back to my trip.
The plane was scheduled to leave Laguindingan International Airport at 6:30 am. By the way, I cringe as I type the word “international” because there are no international flights there, as of now! I wish there would be soon because I really don’t want to have to spend time in Manila every home coming.
This is the plane. Would you be not scared to ride on this one?
Honestly, I was a bit terrified because, holy cow, why are the propellers out? It looks like a toy!
* This type of plane from Cebu Pacific is for short distance travel within the Philippines and requires passengers to be weighed in! Yes, I’m not kidding. They just don’t weigh your baggage but you as well to balance the load so…it could crush your self-confidence, just saying.
The flight to Davao City from Cagayan de Oro City is something so different from what I usually experience. I am used to Manila – Cagayan de Oro flights where you could see the sea and the islands below. This time because the plane is traveling within Mindanao island so the scene below is different.
Different and stunning.
The flight time was only less than an hour, maybe around 50 minutes and the mountains below provided entertainment. Mindanao is so lush, so green.
The mountain ranges ended and the sea appeared as the plane approached Davao airport. I’m finally stepping into Davao again after 19 years. It’s been too long!
I did not ask anyone to pick me up at the airport though I did not know what to do or where to go. LOL. Armed with info from the internet and Google maps, I asked around how to go to the bus terminal to take me to my destination. I managed to arrive at the Ecoland Bus terminal in one piece from the airport and chose a bus to Digos city where a cousin was waiting.
The bus ride from Davao City to Digos City was nearly 2 hours but I didn’t mind. I had internet connection and a camera. Most of the passengers were either sleeping or watching the movie played inside the bus. Now, who would want to do that when it’s this beautiful outside?
Perhaps the people were frequent travelers in the area. They have gotten tired of the view.
My cousin and I had to take another bus for 30 minutes (?) to Sulop, the final destination. It was a bus without any aircon. But the issue isn’t the heat – it’s the crazy wind going through the windows. My hair was all over the place.
That day, there was a wedding.
I arrived and met my relatives at the church on the wedding day of one of my cousins. There were many cousins who I’ve met for the first time. Some were only babies when I last visited. My trip was short, I only stayed for a couple of nights but it was so memorable…I hope it won’t take me another 19 years to come back!
By the way, I don’t know about you but since it has been seven years since I’ve been to the Philippines, I was planning on eating the fruits that I missed and Davao, man, is very bountiful. The Philippines is known to be agriculturally rich and diverse with bountiful flora and fauna recognized by the world but Davao definitely stands out, especially in Mindanao.God must have blessed that land so much that it’s so rich with so many fruits that are so sweet and perfect.
I was craving for marang fruit so my relatives brought me nearby where fruits are sold at the road side.
There was an array of Durian, the king of fruits; the most popular fruit that comes from Davao. I mean, you could tell from a few meters away that there’s durian. I have not had durian before nor planned to eat it for the first time that day so we skipped this.
There! Marang fruit. Have you seen or had one before? So many of my non-Filipino friends do not know marang and even there are some Filipinos, especially those who live in the north do not know this.
“The marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus) is a fruit tree native to Mindanao and some parts of Palawan and Borneo. Like the durian, it has this weird smell but less pungent. A cousin of the jackfruit, its soft and sweet flesh is wrapped in a thick and thorny exterior. Fruit stands along the roads in South Mindanao are usually packed with marang together with durian, pineapples, and bananas.”
You have no idea how I wanted to go home as quick as possible in the above photo!
FINALLY. I was smiling in the picture but I was almost in tears. That dramatic I had to take a marang selfie.
If there is one fruit that I truly, truly miss and have a longing for like a long lost love, it is marang. Mangoes, durian, pineapples and other tropical fruits can be imported and I have had it abroad but this? Marang could not withstand long travel because it ripens and spoils very quickly.
I’m too far carried away when talking about food…
My short trip to Davao was epic. I had other commitments back in Cagayan de Oro so I had to leave. I was there for only 2 nights and 3 days but was so busy I don’t even want to sleep: there was a wedding, a christening, reunion, meeting up with extended family and visiting my grandparents’ final resting place. I wasn’t able to bid them goodbye because I was in Japan when they passed away. It’s tough losing a loved one while living abroad. I also visited my Tiyo Miguel, my father’s brother who died recently.
I promised to be back soon, with the kids but then my plane struggled with turbulence on my way back to Cagayan de Oro. That small plane shaking so badly, I almost ran out of prayers to say. July-August is bad time to travel, especially during late afternoon/night. I wasn’t able to go back with the kids, maybe next time, with an early morning flight.
I can show the kids beautiful Davao, have them meet my wonderful relatives and then I can have my precious marang again!
oh Davao! I would eat all the fruit the season has to offer during our vacation.
I really enjoyed reading this post…. 🙂 I am so glad you have such nice relatives! I feel homesick as we didn’t go to India this time.. 😦