Over the years, I have talked and written a lot about moving to the Philippines. Over the past few days, though, I have been doing some reflection, and I came to the conclusion that I never really moved to the Philippines, at least I never intended to. You see, when I moved to General Santos City in May 2000, I was not moving to the Philippines, I was moving to Mindanao.
But, Bob, Mindanao is part of the Philippines, so by moving to Mindanao, that means you moved to the Philippines!
Yes, of course you are right. But, in my mind, it was not the Philippines where I was wanting to live, it was Mindanao. When I got the itch to move, in about 1996 or 1997, in my mind, I always thought of moving to Mindanao.
The other day, I wrote a little teaser on my Facebook status (if you are not my friend on Facebook, why not? Go invite me to be your friend, and I will certainly approve you!) saying:
I’m coming out with a new and improved ****something**** in the next few days… keep an eye out for it! Any guesses?
Well, this article is related to that, and it’s also related to my love of Mindanao. You see, indeed, over the weekend, I came out with something new and improved. I have completely reformatted my Mindanao Magazine. If you are interested in Mindanao and events on the island, go have a look. I hope you like it. But, this article is about so much more than just announcing a rebirth of a website. Read on and learn more about my love affair with Mindanao.
No, this article is not fully about my Mindanao Magazine, really it is about my 20 year love affair with the island of Mindanao. I first came to love Mindanao before I even set foot on the island. I was on an airplane flying from Cebu to General Santos City in July 1990. As we were approaching General Santos, I peered out the windows and saw a spectacular view. This was my first time to see Mindanao, and I was awestruck by the simple beauty of the place. It was so much different from Cebu or Manila – the only other places I had visited in the Philippines at that point. So, before I even set foot on the soil of Mindanao, I loved the place.
In 1996, when the Internet was still young, and good domain names were still easy to get, I bought the name “Mindanao.com”. I was not fully certain what I wanted to do with it, but I knew that I wanted it, and it was still available. At that time, a domain name cost $70, much more expensive than now, but it was a good investment. Over the years, I have had dozens of offers from people wanting to buy the name, and some of the offers have been well into the 5 figure range, but I have not been interested in selling. Maybe someday I will, but it’s not on the horizon.
Since moving to Mindanao, I have had some of the best times of my life. Of course, my Mindanaoan wife and my family have been the biggest blessing. I’ve had some wonderful adventures here too, though. Probably the highlight for me, when it comes to adventure was my 2007 trip to Tawi-Tawi and Basilan, via Zamboanga. Both Tawi-Tawi and Basilan are places where foreigners are “not supposed to go”. I am certainly glad that I visited both places, though. When it comes to visiting areas around Mindanao, I’ve nearly seen it all. There are 27 Provinces on the Island of Mindanao, and I have been to 25 of them. I am only missing Sulu and Camiguin. I have yet to visit Sulu because of the Peace and Order situation there, and on Camiguin, I just have not made it yet. I hope and plan to visit both places and complete my complete tour of Mindanao, though. Camiguin is easy and I can visit anytime. Sulu, though, is a place where I have to wait for the timing to be right. It could take a while, but I am determined to go there.
I have seen places of great beauty here in Mindanao. I have also seen places of war torn poverty and a lack of hope. In either instance, the journey has been interesting and informative. I have been a student of Mindanao history, and I’ve learned the language most widely spoken on the island, Cebuano. Pretty much, when it comes to things Mindanao, I try to keep myself well informed. It’s funny because a lot of times Filipinos come to me with questions when they want to know something about Mindanao. It kind of makes me uneasy, but the fact is that I usually have the answer.
Not only have I seen interesting places in Mindanao, I have met a lot of very interesting people here. I have met some of the poorest of the poor people in the world living right here in Mindanao. I have also literally met Royalty here in Mindanao. Meeting and sharing some time with truly poor people has been humbling to me, and also has taught me a thing or two about life. It has helped me better appreciate the things that so many of us take for granted. Meeting Royalty here has been interesting, and kind of cool, but has had a smaller impact on my life than meeting people of humbler resources. But, in either case, it’s been an interesting life for me here on the Island of Mindanao. I could never say otherwise.
Getting back to the Website, yes, I have reinvented and relaunched Mindanao Magazine. I worked hard on it, along with my assistant in the task, my niece Bebe. Bebe lives with us, and works for me in our business. She specializes in doing work on the Internet for me, while her sister, Glenda handles work in some of our other businesses. Bebe did a lot of work on Mindanao Magazine, and I want to offer her my sincere thanks for that. She has begun to become quite a wizard when it comes to Internet stuff, and particularly when it comes to WordPress software, the software that nearly all of my websites are based upon. Bebe wants to get into the IT industry, and with the education she is receiving through her work for me, I believe that she can be quite successful in her future employment in the industry. I have actually been encouraging her to not go work for somebody else, but rather to be self-employed and outsource IT jobs for others. I think she might be starting to lean that way. I believe it is a path to great success for her.
So, anyway, I hope that you will visit my newly relaunched site! Yes, I love Mindanao. We all have our own special places that are meaningful to us. Not all of us can say that is Mindanao, and that is fine for me. I hope that you have found your special place in the Philippines, and that you are passionate about it. It makes living there all that much more interesting and fun.