Burnt memories lives on, life and faith goes on.

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Me, lowly sitting beneath the altar…  (after the preparation in celebrating the feast of Mary Help of Christians)

This photo brings back memories. At the heart of the Islamic City of Marawi where marvelous Mosques ascend, yes, one house of worship for Catholics. Yes, Saint Mary’s Cathedral Church that stands along for many decades through the efforts of the Christian faithful all throughout decades from the beginning it was inaugurated. Though just a pigment in populace, Christians strive to live together with Muslims for DIALOGUE AND PEACE within the city. We respect each other’s differences. We recognize, co-celebrates and rejoice the importance of our beliefs and faith. But through the years, it’s the friendship that revel, we remained resilient.

Born, baptized and raised in Marawi as Catholic, Mary Help for Christians, our patron, the Church has been our haven. In times of sufferings, griefs and sorrows, it was in this house of worship that we can seek refuge. Apart from it, Saint Mary’s has been the blissful place for all Youth Ministry grown members who dwells to every challenges in spreading and sharing the good news. We laughed together when one or the others triumph. We cry together when one or many suffers. We slept together during nights and days… It’s so beautiful to reminisce that we share the same moments of happiness. We stick together as we eased each other’s pains. IT’S THE PLACE WHERE WE FLOURISHED THE ESSENCE OF TOGETHERNESS.

In the youth ministry, I met new faces and became my friends. I acquired many things: I learned how to become a follower. I learned to become their leader. I learned how to make fun, I learned how to clean, how to cook and how to wash dishes. I learned how to laugh and cry with friends. I learned to understand the feelings of others. I learned how to share with what I have. I learned how to sing. I learned how to pray and how to love and many other good things. It made me become a better person.

Music has been my refuge in the ministry. In this church, I learned to play basic guitars and I learned to hone the gift of my voice. I was passionate. I am blest to learn how to share it to everyone. Amongst were the children and young ones who look up to me as they want to learn how and more. We devote ourselves during holy weeks. We chant together many songs of praise and inspirations in the little chapel. We sing cool songs of carols during Christmas seasons. To every streets and corners where Christian homes lay around the city, we walked, crossed and paralleled these areas while traversing the roads of unknown just to bring the song and music, the message, the joy and spirit of Christmas… Even some of our Muslim brethren were gladly rejoicing with us. In their eyes, we are not different. They sincerely respect us. For them, we brought peace.

And so it “was”. The humble church no longer stand. It was burned down to ashes and my heart is bleeding in tears. It all happened prior to the celebration on feast of our patron of May 23, 2017.

The city is and still under siege by rebels and terrorists in the name of caliphate ideology. 28 days and counting still, the government forces continue to aggressively combat these vicious extremists. What’s more disheartening is our priest along with devoted parishioners still held captives. And other civilians remained trap within the warzone. Above all, the whole city of our beloved Marawi is turning hell-alike flared and swallowed by ceaseless fires brought by bombs and airstrikes. Innocent civilians were dreadfully affected and forced to flee amidst the seemingly endless war. Many lives have lost. Homes were destroyed. Nothing is left but only hope, even frail, hostilities will end.

And, the whole Island-of-Mindanao is under Martial Rule…

It’s been like ages that I prayed so hard. But this time with a humble heart and humility, I beseech You the good heavens to intervene. It’s not all for me, but for all those who seek refuge upon Your help. In this test of trials, the helpless needs You now because in You, victory is certain.

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Church’s Interior

Though the church burned down, my hope and believe remain strong that our church will be rebuild sooner after this ordeal… Life and faith goes on.

But I asked you to be with us in prayers that love, respect and peace reign again.

Remembering Father on this Day

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Me (2013)                                                                           Papa (Early 1970’s)

Today, we remember someone special dear to our hearts, our FATHER.

More than 15 years of his passing then, yet I still miss him badly. His memories kept resonating in my head. Of him being a good and loving father, he’s a responsible provider and a soldier. Yes, he’s a hero not only in our home but also to our nation whom he served with pride and honor.

Looking back, many would tell me that we do have had a lot of similarities. ‘A sort of’ and I would never say “no” because obviously he’s my Father. Now I say by just looking on the photo really do speaks a lot. I could not escape nor deny the fact that we are indeed really look-a-like, a “carbon copy”, splitting image. Even our gestures on the way we play and hold guitars, it speaks “one-thing” a lot. Yes, I got some little musical genes from my  papa. He loves to sing, so do I. But I bet he’s way better than what I have. he’s way best than what I can do. Papa will always be my idol, my hero.

To all Dad’s out there, teach your child/children to be good and kind. Teach them to be braved as life is never easy to traverse unto. Dad’s is a great navigator in every storm that shakes our life. And that you must guide should your child/children choose the path they want to be and to have in life. These are some of the few things I learned from my ‘Pa.

It’s never to late to say “Happy Father’s Day!”. However, always honor your father every single breath of the day you are with him. Make the most out of it.

FREEDOM?

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Today, we are commemorating EDSA 1986 People Power Revolution. Marking the end of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship under the iron claws of Martial Law, as he and his family force to flew in Hawaii for refuge.

I was very young during that momentous history. As little dude, I have no appreciation whatsoever the meaning of it. I have no understanding at all. I don’t know what to ask from my parents. I am a Mindanaoan. We are even far away from where it was happened

But looking back on my early years, it was being taught in school on how the said Revolution began and unfold… Democracy is back in the Philippines, freedom is given back to the Filipino people… blah, blah, blah…

However, looking on today’s present stature of the country, how significant really does EDSA Revolutions? Are we (Filipinos) truly free?

The country has been troubled and smeared with many crimes of anomalies, corruptions, drugs, rebellion, terrorism and other moral misconducts. Problem on poverty never ceased to breakaway on the chain of everyday living. Rich becomes richer. Poor becomes poorer. Etc. etc. etc.

Now, is that how real Freedom should we deserved to acquire since 1986?

The people is supposed to be the real power, not those people  (political figures, few elites and capitalists) plotting behind the people power. Obviously, those architects of the master plan must have had hidden agendas and personal interests. It was surely and purely for their own saving grace. Come to think of it?

Where are those selected elite few who acted like heroes at that time? – Sitting Pretties and Dons like celebrities in cloud nine. Posing like and claiming as heroes in the media limelight.

Where are those people, the real heroes, who put their lives on the line hurdling and braving the barricades of tanks and armors among others? – I honestly am not familiar with them.  I don’t see them on television often either.

As President Duterte’s message to the 31st EDSA commemoration: “No single party, ideology, religion or individual could claim credit for the bloodless revolution at EDSA. In the same way that no single party, ideology, religion or individual could claim the monopoly of patriotism…” Pretty damn true.

But these so-called supercilious old glitzy and antique yellow crabs and prawns are trying to pull down our beloved President Digong. Secretly trying to stage and orchestrate public confusion to which political opponents and critics now keep on ranting within media circles against the president’s leadership and policies.

As for me, I really don’t think that EDSA revolution of 1986 really defines freedom for all the Filipinos. Though, I do know the true spirit behind it. EDSA freedom? Give yourself a time to reflect.

A Joyful Walk

 

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It’s a joyful walk. One of the best foothill places I have ever hike and trek.  This is just the small area of the massive part of Mount Malindang ranges that spans the provinces of Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. The forested crests and ridges, valleys, small rivers, streams and lakes made of this magnificent mountain. The vistas are glorious. It’s one perfect place to take a moment of reflection from the busy world

I had the opportunity of exploring some part of the place. But it feels like that it takes you forever to discover everything. It’s massive! But being one of the nature is Love. You can smell the very scent of the morning, hear the breathes of the wind calling, birds serenading another hymn, and the shades of ray embracing you warmly. I feel the peace deep within me. True, life is an adventure even in a simple walk. Simply fulfilling.

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However, not so long ago, there were talks and rumors about Mount Malindang on building up mineral mining. I am really against mining even if they insist of that it’s going to be a responsible one. Indigent people and small communities will be greatly affected by this prospect. As far as I know, Mount Malindang is declared Protected. I just hope that mining prospect in this area should not be considered. The nature’s beauty will be under threat especially the watersheds. I truly believe on Ma’am Gina Lopez leadership in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That, at least in her tenure as Secretary, no “mining” is allowed.

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Life is a bliss

MOMENTS WORTH TO KEEP: OUR EXPEDITION STORY

Re-post (posted from my previous blog site dated December 2013: chuy

A spectrum of colors painted in the sky

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When I set my foot on the grounds of Ormoc, a rainbow revealed in the sky. It was lovely, mighty and spectacular. But it was decorated after the devastating annihilation of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). I don’t know what message it brings to the people of Leyte. I know it’s vague to contemplate as such. Maybe because there were shades of grey that cloaked the hearts and clouded the minds of every victim; in fear, depressed, traumatized.

The Leyte Expedition was not only a story of mine alone. It’s a story of the four of us in realizing one purpose. Not really a journey that was only made with going to normal roads. It was something that we never expected to be, which changed our perspectives in life; of how we see and look at ourselves, and of how we viewed the real world during the most trying times.
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Along with Irene Lou, Peejay, and Brian fulfilling the purpose, we had the opportunity to travel extending our helps to the affected many. If my recollection serves me right, it’s all our first time to embark such purpose. I am not so sure of what my companions’ true reflections really then. Somehow, for me, I really did not think that this would be the best, if not the most memorable, travel. Just as I sat my foot on Ormoc’s ground, as expected, I could not understand the feeling of intertwining fear and uncertainty. Most people were not smiling and some were mad and angry because of their trodden luggage and cargoes. It’s fathomable, though. The city were wrecked and ruined. Disorganized! Folks’ faces all around were daubed with sadness, grief and sorrow. I could not bear to see… When I would realized that everything ain’t falling into place, I would go home right away without a second thought.
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My friends in journey (from left to right) Peejay, Irene and Brian

Prior to our trip to Ormoc, we had already discussed and anticipated some worst scenario that possibly would occur. Fears and anxiety have had already posed in our minds. Doubts and worries disclosed in our thoughts. Subsequent to more than a week of sojourn, I must confessed that if not because of this, I could not be more satisfied and happier than anything.

 

As adventurers, we love standing at crossroads. We like facing new challenges and expecting the unexpected. The band of colors ornate the heights were the sign that our trip was going to be colorful yet tough one.

Just as when Irene Lou organized and considered me as part of the medical mission team, I had no thoughts of hesitations. I just grabbed the chance to travel for free without considering the aspect of how heavy the responsibility I would have to carry on. Nevertheless, it reawakened my interests to travel from places to places where I’ve never set my foot of.
Along with my condensed personal stuff and, of course, the 4 of us meet and assembled in Iligan City to secure the medicines should bring in Albuera, Leyte.  Irene and I knew each other since college days for quite sometime but not that much about her younger brother Peejay. And, Brian Quino who traveled quite far from Aurora, Zambonga del Sur who was, at first, someone stranger to me (at least not an Alien hehehehe, Peace Brian! Rock and Roll!!).  We’re pretty sure that we had some impression to one another, though. Whatever it was, neither it’s not an issue any longer nor not a big deal at all. For me, it’s nothing personal. But I already had that gut feeling that we’re going to get along smoothly. There’s no doubt that our group can work together swiftly, and; that we could create more than a team fulfilling the mission bestowed on us.

 

Time chased us. We have to hurry and rushed over to Cagayan de Oro harbor before the boat leave us aboard. It’s funny. I believe Irene Lou knew each one of us better but Brian, Peejay and I do not have a luxury of time talking and asking one another anything about ourselves during the trip. Our top concerned was to arrive in the destination point on time and or before the schedule as possible. Just like in a movie title, it was our first “Rush Hour” trip race chasing the boat before it leaves. We even forgot to take pre-departure photo on the four of us (what a shame).

From jeepney to bus and then to the taxi, we asked and prayed them to rush out. Though we arrived on schedule, we already felt catching our breath with draining strength while our body sweats streaming rapidly while carrying our gears and luggage. Both of our arms and grips were almost torn by the bulkiness of our hefty stocks. Good heavens’ smiled upon us; we were on board with a big smile on our faces. What a battle cry – so tough!

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Team Balugo 2: The first round medical mission in Balugo 2, Albera Town was a success. Our goals accomplished that should yet exceeded our expectations. Form Barangay officials to the office of the Mayor and to the Rural Health Unit, we were recognized and gave us more assistance by providing health workers. It was a big boost on the team to fully utilize and materialize the leg works needed. Mission accomplished! Kudos!

UNTO THE CITY OF ORMOC…

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The search begin looking for gold: “cold drinks”

We decided to reward ourselves b gong to the city, strolling and wondering around Ormoc. We knew that we don’t have that much to expect in the capital because of the catastrophe. All we wanted was to look for drinks that would satisfy our throat’s dryness craving for ice cold liquids. We brought along Mark and Angelic siblings with us. Upon our arrival, we stroll on the streets and highways looking on what we desired for. It’s like searching a pot of gold in the middle of nowhere. The city was so busy, so ridiculously busy but a disorganized wrecked district brought by the typhoon… Yahah! We found one though, but the price was terribly staggering. Even it cost us much, yet still we bought just to replenish our vigor.

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The search is over! (chuckles)
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Thirsty for Hope… our guide Lady Lik sitting along with the wreck light post

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT CITY’S BOULEVARD…

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From left to right: Irene, Brian, Peejay and Me!

We visited the capital’s boulevard bringing along with us the foods and drinks we bought from the district. We find time to relax, over viewing the harbors, the island and wide-open sea while enjoying the foods w bought. Since it’s our, supposedly, last day, we try to enjoy the rest of the day ‘til sunset. We have shared and chit-chatting whimsical stories, anything that comes in our head. We also grabbed the moment for photo opportunities.

BACK TO THE TOWN OF ALBUERA…

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curious… ecstatic on their own photo escapade

Long and tiring day has done. Night was falling, emanating before us. We’re back in Albuera. No electricity in the entire province since the tragedy begun to strike. Dim and shadow shrouded the entire night. Candles, gadgets, and flashlights serves as light to our sights.

 

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Brian on guitars. me on vocals (wasak)

Looking haggard from our hang-out, time was calling us to wash-up, rest, and sleep. But Brian’s musicality was persistent. He just couldn’t resist the whisper of the guitar calling him to twang and pluck it with his hankering digits. He started to play the music, strummed the strings with tunes jamming over his head. The way Brian frolicked the instrument was so inviting. Honestly, I could not resist the melodies familiar on my head. So damn good to listen. It brings back my memories, so nostalgic. The only thing that’s missing was the voice of that music. A voice that can synchronize and harmonize that Brian created. I sat on the bed and then stand on my feet, took the flashlight and light it up and then used it as a microphone. Then, I blend on the beat. As I started singing, Irene raved on the dance floor with the music while waving around the flashlights on. Peejay took his phone and started recording the scene we spawned that night.

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Under the limelight of flashlights!

Yes, I can sing. I was once a singer back years… But now it’s different, I no longer possess the voice I once had. I can’t sing just the way I used to be. At that night, it’s pity that my memory was not serving me well. I hardly recall the lines in the lyrics that the music required. If I’m into the music industry now, then that performance surely suggest the end of my career. I will be humiliated ‘til the end of the century! But time to move on, It’s just an illusion (chuckles).

        Nevertheless, we’d really gone so wild on that night. Our hearts burst out loud overjoyed. Making scenes under the limelight of flashing penlights and dancing to the whimsical tunes over the sound of the guitar’s while banging our heads as our ways of breaking the silence that shrouded in the house. We almost bring the entire house down (not literally, of course – snickering). Although, in spite of all the funny scenarios, it’s too good to realize that we made unforgettable memories on that night. We painted the murky house with joy and happiness. We decorated many colorful smiles on the four corners of the wall through songs and jingles. Perhaps, it was a way of celebrating the moment after successfully fulfilling our humble purpose in medical mission by extending help to the victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Rock and Roll!

 

IT’S TIME TO GO HOME, WE’D PRESUMED…

 chuyWe’re well aware about the exit from Ormoc going to Cebu is way too difficult, a “fist on the moon”, really. Yet luck indeed was on our side on that day. A good man gave us a tip that it’s best to fly with C-130 humanitarian plane in Ormoc Airport to Cebu. It’s a free flight for everyone. Thanks to that! So we rushed over to the airport… Ta dah! So it’s true!
The 4 of us we’re very excited, so ecstatic. Our love of adventures sparked our passion. Our enthusiasms were written all over our faces. Our spirits were soaring high in thrilled. Like our first time traveling in an Ocean Jet sea craft, it’s also our entire “first time” to fly with C-130 plane courtesy of Royal Australian Air Force. But, before we could savor the jubilation of our hearts in the winged of sky-high, all the guys were asked to help and assist disembarking the sacks of donated relief goods down from the aircraft. Who would have had thought that there were so much more we can do other than helping the townspeople of Albuera. It was a great feeling. Certainly, we would never ever forget this whole experience. We’ll definitely treasure this moment for the rest of our lives! My dream came true flying with C-130. It rocks!
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C130 Royal Australian Air Force, Ormoc Airport: For Great Humanity… disembarking packs and sacks of donated relief goods for ST Yolanda Victims.
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Inside the C-130 Humanitarian Aircraft

We arrived in Cebu safely with so much gladness. Little did we know that more help and blessings would come in our way as well as for the people of Balugo, Albuera. Irene was told of by the donors to go back in Leyte for the second round mission. And so we did… Medical Mission 2, accomplished!

Traveling is the best thing ever especially when all expense is paid free (just saying). You have the opportunity of meeting other people in all walks of life. We met new faces. We found new friends. But this particular travel was not just an ordinary one. It’s an expedition full of wonderful memories. It’s full of life lessons that worth to keep forever. You see, we’d got the chance of helping other people in times of struggles and hardships.  In our small way we were able to fill (at least) the emptiness of their hearts claimed by the great misfortune. We were able to bring back a little smile to those frowned ones who have lost almost everything and who have had been through serious hurdles in life. It’s hard but we were able to bring it through.

HOMEWARD BOUND…

I would regret if i am not going to say this about them. This is something my personal perspective on how I looked at them during our expedition.

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Knowing Irene Lou since our college days, I have never thought that she would show such ability and strength spearheading this very challenging mission. For this particular endeavor, it takes a lot of courage, dedication, time, and preparation. But her passion, kindness and love of helping other people made it through. She really puts all her heart into it. I could say that she’s naturally energetic yet calmed and composed. She knows what she’s doing. She leads the team smoothly. A nurse personified, in true service, a good leader. It is my privilege working with you, yet again.

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All through out the days of this undertaking,PJ or Peejay seem to be a man of few words nonetheless a man more of actions. He appears to be outgoing yet with direction. He might not notice it, but he possesses great potential having qualities of being a good leader. It was evident. He can deliver, can give clear instructions and can manage to guide people very well. So keep up! Moreover, as I always brag, PJ is ever passionate of with gadgets. He loves to take pictures and videos with his cellphone-cam in every angle, in his own perspective, in every way.

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Brian, as always, is the music dude amongst us. One of the coolest indeed he is.  But that’s not what I’m going to tell here. Being the nurse, he’s deadly serious on his profession. Serious means business, a good one. He’s effective, can deliver and can educate when action calls before him. Perhaps, he may not look like it because of his zaniness and wacky personality but try him and you’ll know what I mean. This dude has what it takes to be a front-runner, a leader. He’s realistic, holds on his principle and stands on his practical beliefs yet good and gentle and that keeps him going yet.

These good people are asking me to tell also about myself more. Well, I have nothing much to say – really. I am more of taking photos, capturing the moments, and tell the stories behind caught on my lenses. Obviously, this blogger is more of a story teller. I’m fond of expressing my thoughts that catches my attention more than the eye meets. I had so much fun hanging-out with these cool people! Thanks to you!

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Life is rock and Roll. It’s all up t us to rock it and or roll it to the fullest!
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The kick of success… and the strike of friendship.

Whenever I looked back on the rainbow appeared in our midst, I tend to believe that life’s journey is truly packed with colors. You maybe know your main goal and grand purpose but you don’t know what lies ahead like the colors with different meanings. You don’t know of which is which… It’s like a battleground; full of ups and down; filled with twists and turns; hard-fought – a dynamic one. Eventually, our expedition turned out to be good and meaningful. The tragedy brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) became an eye-opener to the four of us. We became not just better persons but more effective individuals. We learn to be modest. It teaches us to be kind should keep our feet on the ground at all times. A story with great moments, worth to keep!

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We sang the song the makes the whole world sing… We sang the song of love and special things… we sang the song, we sang the song…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Another Get-Away… to the City of Falls

Brother Sun’s bright smile to greet the morning tripper/s…DSC_0008

Down to the 400+ steps of winding staircase… TINAGO FALLSDSC_0021

The Panoramic View… and tall trees!DSC_0024

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Behold and be mesmerized by the Majestic Hidden Falls!DSC_0063

… i will always be a stranger in a familiar places. I’ve been here many times and i will never think twice to keep coming back. I just fell in Love.DSC_0066

The glimpse of the morning sunshine…DSC_0095

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You can listen to the white noise sound of the waterfalls pounding the rocks. Relaxing!DSC_0255

Iligan City in Mindanao is recognized as the City of Waterfalls… In just a day, I was able to visit two waterfalls’ tourist sites (Tinago falls and Mimbalut falls). Actually, there are more waterfalls that the place can offer, but others are still yet inaccessible to tourists. But if you’re a bit explorer and adventurous, you can visit them if you’re a trekker and like to hike. Soon, I’m going to try it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Park Experience

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I like visiting theme parks and Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) and Dolphin Island offers a different kind of experience. I happened to visit this place 10 years way back… in 2012 with my former co-workers… and again early of this year.

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MOAP features mini-mangrove forest with wildlife animals in captivity such as monkeys, birds, python snakes and crocodile. It also features marine hatcheries to culture shrimps, crabs and various fishes in ponds. To mention, there are few restaurants in the park to dig in, and perhaps, these cultured marine creatures are their main foodstuff offered in their menu.

 

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1504995_10203777550539453_4900376715595695030_n.jpgWhat I love going to this place is the sight-seeing around the bay and the smell of the fresh sea breeze. It’s quite relaxing…

It’s pretty lengthy and fairly distant walking the footbridge going to the restaurant at the end of it. But I don’t mind at all. I enjoy watching down every stride of the waves, listening to its sound while the wind resonating them to the coastline of mangroves. I find serenity.

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To the Dolphin Island…

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Well, by its name, dolphins are literally in that place, by captivity. Actually it’s a main attraction offered to the tourist when all you have is the opportunity to experience to interact with the creature by swimming with them and fed them. It’s not an island what you actually think of. It’s a man-made structure sitting in a submerge limestone-color sandbank. It said to be a rehabilitation site for injured marine life such as dolphins and Pawikans (sea turtle). At first, I’m fond of watching dolphin swimming, jumping and frolicking but somewhere in my heart am telling me that housing these beautiful, intelligent and amazing marine mammals in a huge sea pen is quite pity…  they deserve to be in the real habitat, I believe.

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According to authorities from the park, at this point in time, said that the dolphins and Pawikan (sea turtle) were return to their true habitat. But rumors keep on circulating that these creature all died. Anyhow, though the man-made structured island is still accessible to tourists and visitors, swimming and snorkeling around the island is best offered to enjoy your stay.  With snorkeling gears, different marine life can be sighted underneath. You can really appreciate every tiny living creature, I must say.

DSC00273I can say that I had fun and enjoyed the side-trip with my colleagues visiting MOAP and Dolphin Island. But I kind of sad in the reality… captivating wild creatures and mammals for the purpose of boosting tourism for economic progress is really quite a shame. I like theme parks but I don’t really buy on the idea of fencing these animals just to entertain tourists and visitors. Should deserve wildlife freedom, they are.