The human spirit is without question, curious. Travelling through different landscapes makes you question what is out there, the infinite possibilities in your imagination can only be answered by being there in that actual place, moment or eventuality. In the past few weeks, I am honoured to have been in places where no outsider has ever set foot on, to see moments that only few have seen in their lifetime and photographed an animal which I never thought existed in our area.
The Higaonon indigenous people are part of the history in the province of Misamis Oriental. For hundreds of years, these people have kept their domains sacred and have tried to pass down their tradition and culture to the next generations. The tourism officer of Magsaysay, Mr. Philip Caseres, alongside his tourism staff, me and the surviving pure blood Higaonons of Brgy. Tama set out into the tribal domain. There we found areas that the Higaonons consider as sacred, waterfalls with a certain mystical feel as you enter it. As one of the very few outsiders who have set foot into this domain, I believe that the very first course of action would be at least to photograph, write and document these places. In a few years time, with modernization creeping up into the doorsteps of these people, these areas would be accessible and may either be developed or continually preserved.
Just a few minutes from the airport in Laguindingan, and a 20 minute hike could lead you to Mt. Anggas in Gitagum, Misamis Oriental. I was invited by Engr. Raul Ilogn and Ma’am Yvonne Waga of the provincial tourism office to spend the night in the area and see what it really is. Hikers and locals call it Nyor’s playground, a very nearby place for an overnight or a day hike towards the summit. The view is exquisite as the colours of the ridge turns from a green hue to a golden glow during sunrise and sunset. The view however during dawn is simply breathtaking as the sky above you shows a bigger picture of the universe and the stars in it. Along the trail, there are a few waterfalls that can replenish you from the heat and can remind you why the mountains can give healing.
Wide Eyed Surprise
I got into a conversation with the head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office of Misamis Oriental, Dr. Jojo S. Bascug. During our talk we discussed the Initao – Libertad protected landscape and seascape, to which I always thought was a home to birds, bats and marine creatures in the sea. But much to my surprise that this area was also home to the Philippine Tarsier. After a few days of that conversation, I decided to pack my camera bag and gear, took the early morning bus to Initao and meet up with the protected landscape forester Mr. Eddie Macasusi and local guide Mr. Andro Sabellano. It took us a while until we finally saw the tarsiers, after a few crawls and some careful foot placements, I was finally there, poised to take the photo which I will remember for the rest of my life.