Juana Yamamomo is a traveler in her own way. She likes to travel to expose her self to different things, to learn from it and to experince life itself. When I joined her on one of her travels, I get to know her more. She has a unique insights and sensible to talk with. She is smart and witty, and has deep sympathy toward others.
On our tour in North Cotabato, we talked about some things with regards to life. Riding a Public Utility Van, we talked as if we did not care about time. We had a smooth and natural conversation as if we are the only people in the van (in a positive sense).
One of the topics we discussed is about Mindanao. How some people have myopic perception about it, especially places who are tag as "critical" or "dangerous". These are excerpts to our conversation.
Yadu Karu: What can you say about North Cotabato?
Juana Yamamomo: North Cotabato is a big area (grinning), yet it is potential for business especially in Agri-Business. Areas like Kabacan, (North) Cotabato has a vast land for agricultural crops such as rice and corn. I know that North Cotabato has lots to offer if only the government has a serious consideration with it.
Y.D.: What can you say to those people who have misperception about Mindanao?
J.Y.: I feel sad about them. I do not know why they are depending their informnation base on what they heard, read or saw on mainstream media. Sometimes they are consuming bias reporting, and they do not even bother to check whether this information is true or not. The best way to eliminate ignorance is to check the facts, research, and to travel to Mindanao.
Y.D.: Have you been to other places in Mindanao?
J.Y.: Yes...ah..like my trip to Compostella Valley. Most people have this impression that Compostella Valley has lots of gold deposits (laughing). Unfortunately I did not see it, but I did enjoy my trip especially the skylab.
Y.D.: What do you think is the cause of conflict here in Mindanao?
J.Y.: Poverty. Poverty is like a chain reaction that connects to other parts of the whole system. I do not need to elaborate more of it because it is self explanatory (ironic smile).
Y.D.: Do you feel fear when you travel alone, especially to the unfamiliar places?
J.Y: Yes, but the excitement is there. The action and adventure is there. I am like an explorer in a 14th century time frame. You discover a land that never been discovered before. You feel satisfied, you feel proud of yourself because of what you discovered. But this unexplored land can be challeging, and this challenge is needed to surpass.
Y.D.: Any unique things you find in North Cot.?
J.Y.: Hmm..so far..I have seen a Hospital in Tulunan, (North) Cotabato named Birhen sa Regla Hospital. It is unusual name for a Hospital, maybe it is for religious purposes. If I have time, I will ask them why they named it as like that.
Y.D.: Any sad, disturbing or depressing scenes you've witness while travelling in North Cot.?
J.Y.: Yes, of course. You cannot deny the fact that it all links to the issue of poverty. But I am hopeful that this is temporary.
Y.D.: What about good things?
J.Y.: Of course! The rich culture of Mindanao--- from arts, music, literature, traditions to festivities. I am happy that despite globalization, Mindanaons are trying to preserve it. And because of it I (We) appreciate more of it.
Y.D.: What's your future travel plans?
J.Y.: Hopefully I could go to the Northern & Western part of Mindanao. And soon, the whole Philippines. And if I am lucky (luaghing), the world.