PROBABLY all migrants in Mindanao have the same familiar story why they decided to stay in the island and most likely, wanting, too, to live here for good for the rest of their lives.

I'm from the Marble Country of Romblon and studied in Xavier University in 1979 onwards as Jesuit Pre-novice made it all happened. The choice actually was unpremeditated as the option was more personal having stayed Manila roughly five years. Actually, I was one among those with vocation to be an alter christus but didn't make it. Five fruitful years were spent at St. Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City with all the comforts and amenities enjoyed by an IFI seminarian from dormitory, food, books and spirituality.

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I had my Associate in Arts at Trinity College, Quezon City as precondition for theology courses.

Burying myself to books in our well-equip library and attending various seminars mostly in Ateneo de Manila, I soon found myself drifting to Catholic faith. Ergo, my conversion in 1979 to Catholicism and my entry to Mindanao as I opted for Haggerty Hall, Xavier University instead of Aravisu House and Ateneo de Manila for a change. Despite, however, with my conversion, I still have that big part of my heart as an IFI while respecting Catholic priests, save for those arrogant ones on the other.

But many are called but few are chosen; hence, I didn't make it to the company of St. Ignatius de Loyola and Francis Xavier. My protestant background was still very strong, says Fr. Oscar Millar S.J., my spiritual director, so he returned back to me my religious freedom to savor the atmosphere outside. Bp. Mondejar, DD of the Diocese of Romblon, upon learning that I was free, took me in under his wings learning my conversion to Catholicism. There I am again becoming a religious butterfly proceeding theology at St. Joseph Regional Seminary, Jaro, Iloilo City. But God had probably other plan as I didn't become a member in the Order of Melchezedek as well trailing my way back instead at XU where I took up a graduate study in Sociology until I employed at DAR, the department closest to our heart. And true enough, God opens the window when He closes the door. That's how I rediscovered and enhanced my vocation as I continued serving Him without reservation, this time in my capacity as layman.

If ever there is colorful experience attach in all those roughly nine years of my stay in the seminary, it's no other than the travel I had either doing pastoral work, staging concerts and all that bringing to as many places in the country. Thus, from Manila to Pampanga, Ilocos Norte to Benguet and down to Region Palawan to Visayas Island in Panay Island with all those glitters of streetdancing and all that.

They were truly great spectacles wherever you are but compare that to the beauty that is Mindanao. Sorry, they just simply pale in comparison, what with all those breathtaking and excellent landscape, fruits, food and places abounding everywhere. The air, too, is one of the freshest and biting when you travel Bukidnon as your eyes are treated to vast track of pineapple and banana plantations to vegetables, coconuts, corn and all that all the way to Davao and Cotabato making you think that then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir might have misinterpreted that theirs is the promise land but Mindanao is as it's literally flowing with milk and honey. Why not when you consider the fertility of our soil, unlike theirs when you either import top soil or just apply agricultural extension all throughout to make their land productive.

I saw this reality unfolding right before my eyes as I traveled probably covering entire Mindanao, save for some hot spots where peace and order is erratic with my ever reliant KMX-125.

So you want to have a juiciest blue marlin for a kinilaw other than GenSan's best in town, then go to Mati of Davao Oriental. And for scenic landscape from mountain resort to excellent seascape then reroute your travel back home via Pacman's Saranggani Province all the way to General Santos City. Going down to Koronadal and Marbel be sure to take a sidetrip to Lake Sebu and be treated to a wonder of nature like Sunmoon lake of Taiwan appreciating how God puts there this wonder with all bounty of fishes right on top of a mountain in the same way of the captivating Lake Lanao in Marawi, Mainit of Surigao del Norte and that one in Bukidnon. And want a trek more than Baguio's Kennon road? Then there's Mangima Canyon and up to Bukidnon. Real mountain trek, however, would never be the same again unless you pass the thrilling Noventa of Surigao del Sur where you would be treated to the world's largest ore deposit.

What about those exotic fishes of fresh catfish, mudfish and carpa displayed still frolicking in a container right along the road of Agusan del Sur and Matina of Davao? How about testing a hell of drive of skylab at Mt. Diwalwal or of wooden cart in upper Carmen, Puerto, Cagayan de Oro City?

Camiguin, too, offers excellent wonders of nature from hot and cold spring to sunken cemetery and White Island. Just be sure to visit the province in October when sweetest lansones are harvested that would compliment your appetite for shoot-to-kill fresh delicacy menu of Sinugba, tinola and kinilaw.

This is Mindanao, and as your second home, traveling around is simply irresistible. Its tourism industry is always there beckoning to be explored whether you are in your own locality or out on a special trip. As different cities are its melting pot, it offers you everything all there is life from career development to economic opportunity.

As an artist, too, you have all the materials you need at your disposal as your token of returning back the compliment to the beauty of its culture and people. Like the rest who are now breathing and living all that is Mindanao rediscovering its splendor and giving peace a chance, there's no limit what you can share. That's when I joined and embarked on a crusade for peace producing Himig Mindanao CD, actually a crusade for peace. Similarly, various writings I have either essays, short story and fiction has all Mindanao as its theme. Passion for peace in as many battlefronts, why not for Mindanao. (Dare to share: email rfmaulion.yahoo.com)