June 27, 2012 Note: Rafael “Raffy” Nabre has passed away, from bullet wounds from an unknown assailant early in the evening today. His immediate family, friends, and hundreds of people whom his NGO Devcon have helped, mourn his loss.

My Little Christmas Tree

This was the smile that I left behind last Friday November 3, when Sam and I flew off to Cotabato city. The longest I’d been away from her was the time I went to Singapore for 3 days, but then her dad was with her. This time she was going to be sans Ama and Ina, and we had no idea how she was going to take it.

I had been invited to give a 2-day crash course on computer literacy and Internet basics for an NGO based in Cotabato City. I had also been tasked to purchase a router to install at their office. Armed with more than a dozen powerpoint presentations, a Linksys WRT54GS Wireless-G Router, and bodyguard Cris, I visited Kutawato for the first time.

Cotabato City Airport

Cotabato Airport resembled Cagayan de Oro’s Lumbia airport in size and atmosphere, although the melee at the baggage claim area was something I had not seen in quite a while. Our hosts Raffy and Irene of DEVCON (Development Consultants Inc.) were waiting for us just outside the Arrival area, and in a few minutes we had driven through the usual military checkpoints toward the city.

The office itself was only a few minutes away from the airport, past the new city hall and the provincial hospital. When we got there Cris did some catching up with friends, while I immediately set upon the business of meeting the Devcon staff and installing the Linksys router in preparation for the next day’s training.

smallmosque

Transient HouseWe were billeted in a house just across the street from Devcon, where Manong Junie and Manang Dory ran a small transient house. It was a hop and a skip away from where I would hold classes for the next two days.

Class picIt is always so rewarding to teach a group of interested newbies, especially when you know that they will be applying what they learn to enrich their work and themselves, through what information they can get from the Internet. These were fresh minds, eager to learn what was good practice and what was not. I can only wish that they would try to learn a lot more than what I had introduced them to.

When classes ended we went on a quickie tour of the city.

Old Cotabato City Hall

Of course a trip to Cotabato would not be complete without a foray down the Barter Trade Center, where I picked up the bulk of my pasalubong, and a quick turn around the ARMM Government Compound.

Segment of Barter Trade Center

ARMM Flag under Philippine Flag

And the drive up Pedro Colina Hill for a fantastic view of the city.

View of Cotabato City from PC Hill

When we got home, first order of business for Maia (after the kisses and the hugs, of course) was to go through our bags for her pasalubong. She’s wearing it, in this picture.

Asan pasalubong ko?

But I think the best pasalubong she had was getting her Ama and Ina back.

Welcome home!

Kwentong Kutawato

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2 thoughts on “Kwentong Kutawato

  1. What a coincedence bisita naman namin last weekend ang Uncle ko from Cotabato City.

    Namiss ko tuloy ang Cotabato. The last time i was there was last 1998 when my lola (my dad’s aunt) died. After that di na ako nakabalik uli since medyo takot na rin. But hopefully this year makabisita kami uli lahat magpamilya sa Cotabato City.

    Kagwapa ba ni Maia uy!

  2. I have fond memories of Cotabato while I was there some years ago; it has that rustic feeling that is usual in a city that is fledging but not yet fully grown–sort of reminds me of Zamboanga about twenty years ago, still breezy and sunny, unlike now where past-paced urban development invokes mega-traffics and smog in the air.

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