A new craze has been circulating in social media which entails one to identify what areas in the
country you have been to. The Philippine Map Challenge, for those who have gone through most of the areas in the Philippines it will become a reminiscent journey of people and places you have visited, often bringing you back in time. The Philippine islands is a very mysterious and enjoyable
journey if you keep an open mind and heart of everything you may find.

My home region, the Cordillera, the provinces and cities have all given me a real time life lesson in cultural sensitivity, indigenous arts and living heritage which I, until this day, learn. The island clusters of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao offer unique experiences you can only find in their respective areas. One of my favorite travels is the exploration of the three islands of Palawan, in a 9 nine day journey taking in the beauty of El Nido, Puerto Prinsesa and Coron, allowing yourself to be herded in tours and bask in the innocence of being a tourist.

The do-it-yourself stay in the islands became a learning tour to become street smart as vultures
who aim to get one over you abound everywhere. The days of hopping from island to island also showed the kindness of the human spirit, despite the enterprising nature of some. At Lake Sebu in Mindanao, the chance to meet Lang Dulay, the famed dream weaver before she passed was key to have a deeper appreciation of culture and the mysterious connection to the unknown only to be
shown in full in works of art like the tantric weaves that she and her school of apprentices create.

In Zaboanga Sibugay hosted by a veteran artist who opened his home to our group of cultural workers. Tales of kidnapping, death and terror where appeased by a unique story of abduction feared to be the end of him, but was relieved to find out, after captors took off his blindfold that they merely wanted him to make the group’s logo. In the island of Batanes, while on tour in a secluded fishing village, a compassion and respect to village mates was relayed when one of our
companions wanted to buy kilos of dried fish she saw drying in the sun.

The villager slowly explained the fish was not for sale just yet because it will be distributed to all members of the village who contributed to the fishing expedition. She continued, everyone who
helped, including the women who cleaned the boat, made food for the fishermen, those who lent their gear, those who waited for the fishermen, gutted the fish, and those who were in charge of drying the catch will all be given an equal share of the produce and only then, will the excess be allowed to be sold.

In Romblon, teaching artisans to use the marble bits, often discarded and thrown after the making of statues and the iconic mortar and pestle was a joy to facilitate, eliciting satisfied smiles from the local artisans and excited chatter from students who took the time to make floor murals to the
delight of all. The Philippine Map Challenge, for the untraveled will elicit wistful wishes to get out of the house and will become a bane for those who cannot go out of their areas that easily but more than the urge to get out of the house, the challenge lies in the fact that the Philippines is a beautiful
place, so before you dream of going out of the country, remember, your country is worth visiting.


Amianan Balita Ngayon