We all have that one place that has a special status in our psyche; places that have extreme significance to us. In my case, it’s an island:
Mindanao, in the Philippine south.
I’ll skip the customary facts and just say that Mindanao is a largely misunderstood place. Even by Mindanaoans themselves. Chalk it up to media, I guess, among other factors. One mention of Mindanao and one trope springs to mind: War. Bloodshed. Strife. Terrorism. So prevalent is this perception that everything else is disregarded. A quick browse of local evening news brings little else out of the island. It’s mostly sensationalized negativity in heaps, if Mindanao makes the news at all.
Only in recent years has this cloud of ignorance started to lift. With the rise of blogging and social media came the start of the eradication of mental barriers. It is this wave that I have decided to ride, albeit I am quite late coming into the blogosphere, having stuck with micro-oriented platforms and the convenience of a facebook post all these years.
Mindanao is an island of contrasts. She is a rich cultural melting pot and a fiery social crucible. She is a victim of circumstance and a victor over them. She is a product of outside forces, and to some extent, influences these same forces at present. She is poverty and richness. She is struggle. She is life.
There is undoubtedly a pitfall that comes with the increase of content about a place: that there is a tendency to just have more “feel-good” content out there; the rise of a disparity in reportage, the ignoring of stories. Even of good ones. Without setting too high a bar, I will try as much as I can to to champion the latter. I myself am still in the process of discovering Mindanao; such is her nature, a place full of nuance.
Meanwhile, this blog will remain personal in its tone. A photo (at times one I have from a few years back, at times one I’ve already put up on the internet somewhere else but deserves a second look, and at times one sitting on my hard drive waiting to be published) and an accompanying story, in keeping with the photography trope of a thousand words an image. Facts will be checked, accuracy will be adhered to as much as possible, but the personal side will surface again and again. Opinions may manifest, but I’ll make sure they remain reasonable. No fiery flames of rhetoric to spoil the visuals. And despite the impressions of overall negative tone that “reporting the unreportable” brings out, I’ll keep myself in check and cover the whole emotional spectrum. There’ll be a proliferation of black and white images, though, as a self-imposed photoblogging rule. I aim to be informative as well, but I’ll try not to ramble and keep it short and interesting.
In essence, this blog is dedicated to Mindanao; her stories, her people, her places. This blog is an attempt at lifting ignorance, at shining a light on Mindanao’s obscure corners, an exercise in storytelling. Sit back (well, scroll down, really, while sitting back) as I regale you with the stories I have picked up over my years in this island.
Oh and again, this isn’t a travel blog.