Have you ever looked at one of those tourism ads and wondered what sort of stories lie behind the spectacular sunsets, the colorful sceneries, and the sweet smiles of the people in the glossy photographs?
Are they just as happy when the cameras aren’t around? Or does the twinkle in their eyes fade when the afterimage from the last flash dies down. What secrets do they keep and what kind of lives do they lead beyond what tourists normally get to see.
In Mindanao, where years of government neglect has rendered many beautiful places inaccessible except for the truly determined, there is hope that some of these hidden gems will finally see the light.
If there is one thing that the first Philippine President from Mindanao has brought to the national consciousness, it is a greater interest in the land he calls home. While much of the focus so far has been on the political front, images and reports on the beauty of Mindanao are also starting to come out. And with them come the stories of the people.
In the next six years, Mindanao will have an unprecedented opportunity to reveal itself to the world – and the world will, for the first time, have greater access to this last pristine frontier of Philippine tourism. Hopefully this will be supported by the administration with the appointment of a Tourism Secretary who is also from Mindanao and understands its people and culture.
With Duterte and the Muslim rebels promising lasting peace, maybe the stories of Mindanao can finally be told by those who have lived them.