Never judge a place by its reputation. Cotabato City is one such place that has been marred by negative publicity it constantly gets – bomb blast, kidnapping, corruption and political strife. It’s a prime candidate for an episode of Don’t Tell My Mother in National Geographic. I can’t deny these things happen, in fact the vice-mayor was ambushed a couple of weeks after my visit in the city. But all these things are not as bad as media painted it to be. It happens to any other place although amplified to an exaggerated degree. There’s also good news coming out of the region, the Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah or popularly called The Grand Mosque rose like a golden sun, inviting droves of tourist in this commonly misunderstood city.
We never expected Typhoon Ondoy to be as devastating as this. It was September 26, 2009, Saturday and I was on my way to Singapore at that time. There were heavy rains on my way to the airport and thought that it was just a natural rain. When we arrived in Singapore, news from Manila came pouring in. Flood waters were rising all over the metro and it got really serious when we heard that flood waters were also rising on places that don’t usually have floods. We found out later that Typhoon Ondoy ravaged Manila pouring a month’s worth of rain in less than a day.
Department of Tourism Philippines and MTV Asia has a joint project soon to be launched first thing in October. We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive preview of their collaboration with renowned Filipino-American Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo) of Black Eyed Peas called “Take U to the Philippines”