In my younger years, I spent some good times in Manolo Fortich. But that was way back the early 80s and the memories are quite hazy already. All I remember is my cousins and I immensely enjoyed the trips as we rode on my dad’s Ford Bronco. We usually went there in the summer to accompany my lolo, the late Hon. Cesar M.A. Fortich (Titang), for his regular check-ups at the hospital in Camp Phillips.
My sister and I also often accompanied our dad when he played golf, so we spent a lot of time at the Del Monte Golf Course & Country Club. I have a lot of wonderful memories there, including that one time when daddy bought a life-sized clown from the gift shop as a reward for us.
Fast forward to many years later, in the late 1990s, I went back to Manolo Fortich with my mom as we did a short video feature on Camp Phillips. I did some interviews with the kids playing in the field. We also had a simple picnic there.
From time to time, I also went to friends and relatives’ homes in Cawayanon. I even went swimming in the pool there!
Aside from the 80s trips, however, these past experiences only showed me a small part of Manolo Fortich, a place that is somehow a part of my family history. It was only in May this year when I finally had the chance to go around and truly explore the place.
Before I tell you about my Manolo Fortich experience, let me share with you first why this place, as I mentioned earlier, is a part of my family history.
Manolo Fortich was named after the 1st governor of the District of Bukidnon, Don Manuel “Manolo” Fortich. Manolo, or Papa Ande, is my great-grandfather. He is my lolo Titang’s father and my dad’s grandfather. I grew up in our white house in Corrales seeing the Papa Ande’s photo – the one where he wore a cowboy hat and rode a horse – but I never really learned his story until I was around 2nd year high school. That was when we started going to the Camp Phillips hospital in Manolo Fortich.
In his time, Papa Ande contributed a lot to the development of Manolo Fortich. Our family has received several awards for the local government for his contributions.
Papa Ande was also featured in the book “The Philippines Past and Present (1913, 1914)” by Dean Conant Worcester, who was the Secretary of the Interior for the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands from 1903 to 1913. I remember seeing and reading the book when I was in 4th year high school (or 1st year college). I don’t know where it is now.
I didn’t get to meet Papa Ande because he died way before I was born. But I listened to a lot of stories about how great a man he was and I feel like I know him already. I keep his legacy close to my heart.
Discovering Manolo Fortich….Again!
When I first received the invitation to go to Manolo Fortich and share my experiences and knowledge in blogging, I had mixed emotions. I was nervous because it was my first time to talk to senior high school students about blogging. But I was also excited because it’s a once in a lifetime adventure. It’s something that I have always wanted to do – reach out to the younger generation and share what I know.
The idea of spending the weekend in Manolo Fortich also rekindled my love for the place. While it’s true that I haven’t spent a lot of time there after all those childhood trips, I have always had a special place in my heart for my great grandfather’s hometown.
So upon the invitation of the Manolo Fortich Bloggers Association, I spent one weekend in Manolo Fortich with vloggies Nicole Tiro, Jireh Cuarto, and Karl Butaslac. We were all looking forward to a fun and rewarding experience – and we weren’t disappointed.
One of the first things we did when we arrived in Manolo was to pay a courtesy call to the (very young) Mayor Clive D. Quiño. Even if it was a Friday morning and his office was abuzz with activity, the mayor didn’t hesitate to spend a few minutes with us, to welcome us and make us feel at home.
After meeting Mayor Quiño, we went straight to the conference room to start the workshop. I was delighted to find out that our participants were all senior high school students. The vloggies and I were also impressed when we found out that the Manolo Fortich local government actually train their students to blog and vlog during special events, such as the municipality’s annual Charter Day celebration.
Anyway, I was the first to take the floor as I introduced blogging to the students. Jireh, Karl, and Nicole followed. Even if the workshop took the whole day, I didn’t really feel tired or worn out because the participants were so eager to learn. I also saw how the Manolo Fortich local government took care of its students. The Manolo Bloggers Association, led by the fun and energetic Lee Improgo Tan, made sure that the participants had everything they needed.
And they took good care of us, too!
(Huge thanks to the local government of Manolo Fortich and to our friends at the Manolo Fortich Bloggers Association headed by Lee Improgo Tan.)
(All photos by MFPoblete.)