HAVEN'T I said that I love going to Davao City. I have been there countless times. Either attending business meetings or just visiting friends and kin. And in many instances, my trips, airline tickets, hotel board and lodging are being taken care of by Boy Dizon. He is the eldest son of the late Francisco Dizon, a relative whose hometown is Porac. Cong Paquito as called by colleagues and friends founded Dizon Farms. He was Kong Kikoy to us in Porac. His son Boy is a very successful businessman who owns several farms and his fertilizer business is one of the largest in the country. And besides the other siblings like Sonny and Bebot are really very nice people who love listening to stories about the early years of their dad in Porac.
Two more I love are Zamboanga and Cotobato cities. In these two latter cities, I have beautiful memories of my youth. My first visit was in mid sixties. It was some kind of an adventure. I was young and so curious. My friend, the late Marino Guiao who worked as a karate instructor in Clark Air Force Base, invited me to a trip to join him and wife Elizabeth who was a native of Zamboanga City. Our destination was Pagadian the capital town of Zamboanga Del Sur. The governor then was Javier Arriosa and Vincenzo Sagun was the congressman.
I instantly fell in love with the place. Laid back, friendly residents, cheap prices and beautiful women. I decided to stay. Together with my friend, we established Beaux Brotherhood Kyukushin Hai Karate Club in a rented second floor of a building in the downtown area. Business was brisk. Picnics on weekends. The sea was abundant with fresh water fish. Life was simple and peaceful. A perfect place to do business and take residence.
Once I was invited to travel in Zamboanga City one weekend. On that Sunday early afternoon when our bus reached the city, I can't help but exclaimed, Wow, what a beautiful place! Pasonanca Park, Cawa Cawa beach, Plaza Pershing, Nuestra Senora Del Pilar Grotto and many areas you visit even in the dead of night was so safe, like how it was safe to travel to any point in Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan and Jolo, Sulu.
"Don't you go, don't you to go too far Zamboanga" so goes the song. It sends the message that once you are there, you will never want to leave. It happened to me. I stayed more than two years and decided to stay there forever, but a love affair involving me and a rich and beautiful Chinese girl ended my stay. Her parents threatened her. (My love story with her will beat a telenovela but it will require another story telling some other time).
I had several Muslim friends. There was no ethnic quarrel. There was peace all over Mindanao. Though some filtered news that trouble was brewing in Cotobato. (Datu Utdog Matalam was governor and Salipada Pendatun was congressman. An independence movement was reportedly being formed).
Still nursing a broken heart, I accepted the invitation of a friend to work as news writer for the Cotobato section of Mindanao News Tribune edited by Bert Tesorero and printed in Davao City. Not long after I was invited by Fred Babao, station manager of DXMS, to become an assistant news director of the station's news bureau.
In my youth, it was said that Mindanao is the "land of promise." Maybe so, because leaders in our country made strings of promises which gave hope to people of Mindanao. But that hope faded as time passed by, and the despair turned into violence. Filipinos killing brother Filipinos. Will the passage now of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bring back the peace and prosperity in Mindanao?