Thursday, July 18, 2013


One day while I was doing my usual office routine sometime year 2008, there came over me a sudden urge to visit the Badjao community of Sta. Cruz to basically learn how this group of people survives in their own territory.  That was one year after LOGSAC was created but even before the group’s creation we already identified the Badjao community as one of the best hangouts for people like us who love to go through the “less-travelled road”. As persons with special interest on people, immersing to such kind of community is more than a pleasure. I remember one club-mate Chickay spending her birthday at the Badjaoan to the delight of the children there. We also used to maintain certain area in their compound as one of LOGSAC’s adopted mangrove reserves with the tribesmen as stewards.

Mangrove Reserve Area in Apo Beach adopted by LOGSAC and safeguarded by the Badjaos 
However, I have failed to translate my experiences with the Badjaos into writings because I have yet to discover the interior chamber of its ethnicity. I had to attempt several exposures and more blending with them.

As I steered several foreign guests to their place, my interest has grown even further as every time I visit the place I would always discover something new and unique. Not to mention the opportunity of becoming one of their treasured friends which I really admired. There I discovered that Badjaos are more than just “begging alms” along the major city streets which majority of us really hated seeing at times especially when they stumble upon us in downtowns. I even felt guilty of my previous actuation with these people. True enough, DISCRIMINATION is the word that best describes our attitudes towards them.

This is typical Badjao family
Just recently, I have accompanied an American photographer Mr. Jacob Maentz who immersed himself to the area. This has once again prompted me to ascertain and validate the little things I knew of the tribe.  Unlike any other guests I knew, Jacob used to fall in love with the culture of Badjao. He held through to his fascination by sleeping in one of the houses in the area and he was proud to tell me that it was one of his most-prized experiences.

Dwelling beside the shoreline facing Davao Gulf, the Badjao community accounted for point-something percent of the overall population in Sta. Cruz. Their total population is more or less 450 persons with a total household of 66 (with 6 average household size). Their main source of income is spear fishing, selling slightly-used RTWs and shoes and occasional laboring. Caroling during Christmas season is also an opportunity for them to earn extra income.

The Badjaos, who originally came from adjacent Southeast Asia nations like Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, have formed part of the unique cultural subdivisions of Filipinos. Their roots in the Philippines are believed to have settled somewhere in Sulu and Zamboanga, after all, Badjaos are normally travelers in nature. They always travel from one place to another for as long as they could dock in seashores. Their houses are also temporary in nature, made out of light materials as they won’t be staying there for long.

Health and Education are two major issues that needs to be resolved for the good of the Badjao Community 
With the company of Jacob, I concluded that Badjaos possess extraordinary sense of humility and selflessness more than anybody else in the Philippines. I also used to discover that they try to live a serious life – away from extreme discrimination and humiliation. For me, their struggles are plain and simple, health and education. We might have focused our attentions elsewhere and have forsaken the plight of the Badjaos.

Badjaos are also good friends. They might have drowned in a serious battle for survival but within them lies an excellent comradeship. I can attest to that as every time I go there they would always treat me special. Their smiles are often subjects to my photographs and they are not shy to face my camera.

The smile of Badjao children like this one is a good photograph subject 
To all those who have forgotten the Badjao culture or have intentionally dislike this group of people, it’s high time now to discover their unique attributes. They have what it takes to make you appreciate life all the more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


(Words and Photos by: Doreen Joy D. Bauya)

“Travel, particularly the independent kind, cannot only broaden your horizons but also expose you to out-of-the-ordinary sights.” (David Fruitman)

In every destination has a story to tell… Let me share with you my travel research to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go to – Kingdom of Cambodia. The date was May 20-24,2013. It’s my 1st time to travel out of the country and I was a bit tensed and having mixed emotions because I didn’t know whether I could answer some questions from the Immigration staff. But thanks God I’ve made it. Hail to the Kingdom of Cambodia. 
Siem Reap International Airport
Country Name. The Kingdom of Cambodia, country name in Khamer language – Kampuchea, capital city – Phnom Penh, language – Khmer (Cambodian) some English and French spoken. Government – multi- party democracy/constitutional monarchy and their motto – Nation-Religion-King. It takes 3 hours travel from Manila to Siem Reap Cambodia via Cebu Pacific flight. I was with my 3 friends Nikko, Jake and Mia. We arrived at Siem Reap International Airport past 10:00 in the evening. We took a ride with their tuk-tuk to our pre-arranged transient house at Bou Savy Guesthouse. Some staff warmly accommodated us and after signing to their guest book we immediately billeted to our room. It was a family-run guesthouse where breakfast was free. The perimeter was surrounded with plants and trees, providing a cooling shade that eventually complimented with the free wifi internet access.
Bou Savy Guesthouse

As a backgrounder to the area, Siem Reap is built along the river. One should be aware that the majority of the residents can only have handful of these at best and instead rely on land marks, pagodas, markets, major hotels and so forth. Some have sidewalks, on most corners you’ll find signs proclaiming the street names. It’s a fairly compact town and most business catering tourists. It has a huge variety of hotels and guesthouses to suit every taste and budget. It is very closely organized and you will never ever be far away from most of the town’s bars, restaurants and cafés. It’s a home to a resurgent silk industry as well as numerous NGOs and other enterprises that support local communities with skills training and lots of creative talents. The easiest way to get around is by foot, moto or tuk-tuk.

And the journey begins…. Let’s enjoy and explore around Siem Reap. We spent our 1st day with a whole day temple walk instead of temple run because the weather was so hot. With my mineral water, vitamins and DSLR camera in full battle mode, we hired 2 tuk-tuks and each of our drivers at the same time was our tour guides for 4 days in Siem Reap. There were dozens of temple ruins including Bayon, Ta Prohm and the legendary Angkor Wat in the area of Siem Reap and many of the most significant were within the Angkor Archeological Park, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Khmer refers to the dominant ethnic group in modern and ancient Cambodia. Angkor literally means “capital city or holy city”. It was constructed as a Hindu temple served as a Buddhist temple .It is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers 65 meters from ground level.

Angkor Wat was constructed as Suryavarman II’s state-temple and perhaps as his funerary temple. I couldn’t imagine myself I’ve made the temple walk in a day with its exceptionally unique and beautiful masterpiece that you can only say to yourself, “Oh God thank you for the amazing gift of skills/talents from your chosen people.” Walking around the temples is also a good way of exercise because of the wide area mostly kilometers apart, which definitely burned our calories/fats. Some ruins are really a must-see. On the following days, we visited Silk Farm, Senteurs d’ Angkor, Floating Village, Angkor Artwork, St. John Catholic Church, Old Market and Pub Street. Allow me to share to you the very nice places and experiences I gained with my stay in Siem Reap:

Angkor Wat
Silk Farm
Senteurs d’ Angkor. This offers visitors the opportunity to see the process of producing natural soaps made from coconut oil, moisturizing creams and subtle-scented balms and candles. There you could also observe the different steps in the treatment of spices to make traditional Khmer curry or amok and of the creation of flavored coffees and teas. Then learn to identify various local exotic plants and flowers; lemon grass, chili, pepper plant, bougainvillea, frangipani, hibiscus, jasmine and more. But again, it’s a no no taking photos inside the shop. Inside the shop offers a unique collection of authentic Khmer products, toiletries, etc.

Senteurs d Angkor
Angkor Artwork. Here, discover Khmer arts and crafts techniques from the master artisans. It was absolutely unique, original, high quality works of hand crafted wood and stone carving, art-beautiful tamarind wood Buddha images, statues, castings lacquer ware, boxes and panels. You will really appreciate how amazing their kind of skills are.

Angkor Artworks
Chong Khneas Floating Village, Tonle Sap Lake . Here boat docks all day long, waiting for passengers and a two-hour boat trip going to the village. You will see Khmer and Vietnamese floating households, markets, clinics, Catholic Church, basketball court, gasoline station, schools and other boatloads of tourists. Mostly people living in this village are poor and their foods and clothings mostly come from donations. But what’s good is that they’re not shy to show their way of living and still keep on surviving every day.

Chong Khneas Floating Village
Market “Phsar” (Old Market and Pub Street). No trip to Siem Reap would be complete without a visit to one of the traditional markets. “Laidee, Laidee” will be what all you hear if you spend the afternoon at the markets. Old Market is full of character, colour and bizarre. It caters visitors and locals offering a varied selection of traditional items, souvenirs, silks, home wares and food. The streets surrounding the market are filled with restaurants, bars and shops. Both offering reasonably priced food drinks and welcoming atmosphere. You can also experience massage, or fish massage on your feet. The Pub Street alleys, is the entertainment hub. In this street also you will see several distinctive small contemporary galleries and funky boutiques. There are dozens of stalls and vendors offering variety of Cambodian and Asian art, souvenirs, curious gems and jewelry. The quiet lanes offer a much more relaxed ambiance. You can really feel a true cultural shopping experience!

The Food. Khmer dishes tend to be much subtler in flavor, more delicately spiced and are rarely spicy hot with rich and fresh ingredients. They served salad, soup and a main dish with rice. Meats are served bite-size and the table is set with fork, spoon and chop sticks. Knife will be upon request. I love their traditional menu Amok Curry – a yellow curry with coconut and fish cooked and served in a fresh coconut or banana leaf. And of course, the fresh fruit juices and fresh fruits, very delectable.

Some of Siem Reap's delectable food items
St. John Catholic Church. Is a simple wooden Catholic chapel. It is mostly run by missionaries’ priests, nuns and individual volunteers. We went there to pray and give thanks to God for our safety travel and for guarding our stayed in Siem Reap.
In one of my tuk-tuk rides
Travelling in different places is such an amazing experience, loaded of happy memories that will always be treasured in my heart forever and no money can buy it. With this travel I’m thankful and grateful to God that despite of our differences in customs, cultures, beliefs and others we are still blessed in every way. I’m also thankful for the wonderful friendship bonding and of course for the safe travel. Until then.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Green Scene of Cinchona Forest Reserve in Lantapan, Bukidnon

Mindanao Mountaineering Federation Mid-Year Forum and Climb

Unfortunately, not all LOGSAC members got the opportunity to join the 4th Mindanao Mountaineering Federation (MMF) Mid-year Forum and Climb last June 28-31, 2013 due to varying reasons.  There were only three of us from the club (Jonas and Hardi Joy) who participated the exciting trip which was held in one of Mindanao’s prime mountaineering destinations – the Province of Bukidnon. Although most of our club members already climbed Bukidnon’s two major mountains in Dulang-Dulang and Kitanglad two years ago, this year’s mid-year forum could have been another memorable experience for all of us.

The event was held in Cinchona Forest Reserve, Kaantuan, Lantapan, Bukidnon. It is more or less one hour travel from Malaybalay City. Considered as one of the main tourism attractions in Bukidnon, Cinchona Forest Reserve was established way back 1929. It has become a historic landmark of Lantapan town before it became a favorite camping site today as it was witness of the Americans and Japanese hostility in the early 19th century. The old buildings and other structures in the park were used as defense force of the Japanese Imperial Army during the 2nd World War. When the Americans helped local folks in a battle against the Japanese, the structures were also taken over by the Americans who eventually won the fight versus the Japanese.

Jonas and Hardy after a rewarding waterfalls trek 
These are old park structures that serve as witness of the American-Japanes Hostility
According to the locals, cinchona trees were propagated for extraction of its special content called quinine which was believed to cure malaria disease. Physically, cinchona is a medium-sized tropical tree that can grow up 80 feet high with a 60-centimeter diameter.  The entire park has a total of 1,994 hectares with 147 species of assorted trees. Overlooking the Simayha Plains of Central Bukidnon, the plantation is considered to be the only of its kind left in Asia.

Cinchona trees canopy
The beautiful Simayha Plains of Central Bukidnon
The fauna species of the park is also very interesting. Based on record, the park is a habitat of Green Maya and Ratus ratus rabori, the only rat of its kind in the world. We are even lucky then to have seen the Philippine Eagle in one of the park perimeters which as park personnel would put it has already been tamed through the years.

The Philippine Eagle is part of the interesting park faunas 
Part of the forum itinerary was a trek to cinchona’s series of waterfalls approximately an hour trek from the base camp. The abundance of water supply in cinchona is very evident. The river and all its tributaries are crystal clear that directly flows down stream. The cascading waterfalls are alluring and its mists and pool are very cold. Everybody was tempted to take a dip, but not for long as the coldness was ready to dominate us.

Series of waterfalls located within Cinchona Forest Reserve
As imposed by the organizing committee of the 4th MMF mid-year forum and climb, we joined the tree planting on the second day as there were still vacant spaces within the park just beside a small stream below the campsite that need to be rehabilitated. Along with Hardi and Jonas, we were prompted to plant more trees especially since park personnel in cinchona have assured us to really take care of the trees planted. 

Tree Planting by Jonas and Hardi
It is a way for all mountaineers present to contribute to the park’s conservation and to maintain its remarkable green scene.

This blogger would like to thank the Bukidnon Mountaineering Club (BUMOC) for inviting us to participate to this event. Special thanks is also due to MMF, including its officers and members for crafting a very good itinerary. Hopefully the MMF will be strengthened in time to really address issues and concerns for the good of the mountaineering community in Mindanao.