Earlier this week, there were rough talks between Papa and his siblings whether we would be going to Pangasinan for All Saints Day. It was not only until a couple of days later that the plan was finalized, but the exact time of departure had been uncertain. October 31 was not declared a holiday, and it meant that we (Mon and I) would have to come all the way from Makati after work because I thought that we would be leaving at 4:00 AM.
On our way to Marikina on a cab, we were eventually told that we won’t be off until 9:00 AM the following morning. When they said 9:00 AM, I knew that it meant 10:00 AM, which I did not mind at all because I was hoping to sleep longer. I had already prepared myself to sleep during the long ride to Pangasinan, but to lie down on a bed will always be way better.
For today, we just had to do interviews and shoot clips of our colleagues in Cotabato City — it was the same thing we had done in our Davao City office. It was an overcast day and I had a great time taking B rolls of the environment, especially the mosque next to our office. =) I did not realize there was one, not until I went to the rooftop and saw the familiar structure. Thanks to the timer function, I was able to get several shots of myself with the mosque, while Rob was conducting the interview.
Again, like what I’ve been telling the group I was with, it was really nice to see our colleagues in person, and put faces on names we just see on emails. They were the most welcoming bunch, and I had the highest respect to all of them working in the field.
Leaving Estosan Hotel at around 7:30 PM, we went to our office in Cotabato City for a briefing of the activities of the day ahead. Seeing the situation in Cotabato City and Maguindanao during the daylight made the situation clear: it was not a surprise to see checkpoints and armed soldiers in every kilometer of the road. It was no good pretending that it did not make me feel uneasy. And as we were going to Maguindanao, it made me more worried. It was no secret that the mere mention of “Maguindanao” in mainstream media invokes images of the infamous Maguindanao Massacre. But as we have seen, Maguindanao is more than just a place that should be associated with such a heinous incident.
Coming from our stressful day yesterday, it was a relief to finally lie down and sleep in a comfortable bed. We had to wake up everyday around 6:00 AM because we should follow our itinerary as much as we can. We went straight to our field office in Trento, Agusan del Sur to conduct to interviews with our colleague, to get a sense of what they exactly do in the field. We then drove for approximately three hours to visit a barangay in Cateel, Davao Oriental. The coastal areas of Davao Oriental, particularly Boston, Baganga and Cateel were severely devastated by Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) in December 2012. These towns were affected most especially by storm surges brought about by strong winds, enough to destroy some infrastructure and houses in their respective communities. As you can see from the photos below, the people of Barangay Maglahus in Cateel, Davao Oriental had to cross the river using a boat. There used to be a hanging bridge connecting the two areas, but it was sadly destroyed during the typhoon. We were lucky to be there when there was no rain, because apparently, it has been raining for about a week before we got there. Can you just imagine how strong the water current could get and how perilous it would be for the people and children to cross the river?