Mindanao is such a beautiful place with lovely people and a lot of amazing destinations to offer. Sadly, it is marred with a lot of misconceptions that hinders both local and foreign tourists to visit it. Comments such as "magulo sa Mindanao", "bakit ka pupunta sa Mindanao?," "baka ma-kidnap ka dun" and other similar comments irritates me. Let me ask you, "have you seen most of Mindanao or at least seen a part of it for you to say that?" Perhaps, that kind of thinking and misconceptions only come from someone who hasn't really been to Mindanao.
With this, let me share to you some misconceptions and truths about Mindanao as shared by Mindanaoans who were born, raised and are living in Mindanao. I hope this will shed light on the misconceptions and encourage everyone to visit and explore the lovely island of Mindanao.
Basically, I asked them two questions:
- What is the biggest misconception about Mindanao?
- What is the truth behind that misconception?
I am very glad that they are very welcoming and enthusiastic in sharing their thoughts on this. Here are their answers:
"The biggest misconception about Mindanao... Akala nila kasi nakakatakot ang lugar sa Mindanao at sabi nila hindi peacful ang Mindanao... The truth about the misconception... Ang kagandahan ng turismo sa Mindanao. Kung pupunta talaga sila dito, malalaman nila na maraming nakatagong mga magagandang tanawin at beaches. At higit sa lahat ang mga tao dito ay hospitable!"
- Jayson Pia Arcan from Isabela City Basilan
Misconception: "That Mindanao is ONE BIG RURAL ISLAND!"
Truth: "An imperial state of mind would picture Mindanao as a place where advanced industrialization is just a dream. I’ve accompanied friends and guests from different parts of the country and the world roam Mindanao and their usual remarks would be like: “the roads here are so wide and even better than expressways in Manila” when in SOCCSKSARGEN or SOX, or “Davao is like a metropolis, it’s different from what I imagined!” when in the queen city."
- Louie Pacardo from Koronadal City South Cotabato
"Para sa akin bilang isang katoliko na tubong Mindanao, isa sa maituturing na biggest misconception about Mindanao ei yung paniniwalang ang Mindanao ay lupain ng mga Terorista, pugad ng mga nilalang na halang ang kaluluwa. Di pa man ako pinanganak di na maikakaila na may krisis na na pinagdadaanan ang Mindanao lalo na sa usapin ng kapayapaan. Pero bilang isang indibidwal naniniwala ako na hindi pa rin batayan ang kaguluhan para patuloy na itanim sa isip ng nakakarami na dapat katakutan ang isla ng Mindanao. Marami sa mga kababayan ko ay mga Moro, 25 years ni minsan di ako nakaranas ng anumang karahasan na inaakala ng karamihan at para sa akin PARAISO ang bayan ko."
- Nhoy Corpuz from Lebak, Sultan Kudarat
Misconception: "There are no prestigious universities or educational institutions in Mindanao."
Truth: "Students, mostly college entrants, often aspire to pursue higher education in universities in the country's capital where in fact, prestigious universities can also be found in Mindanao. To name a few, universities like Mindanao State Universities, Ateneo de Davao University and Ateneo de Zamboanga University have already made a mark in producing board topnotchers and competent professionals."
- Chamee Pecson from Davao City
"Mindanao is not worth visiting. Yes, there are areas that bad things do happen, but the same can be said anywhere you go in the world. Every province in Mindanao has its own hidden gems, places and cultural heritage waiting for you to discover. Not to mention the warm hearts of the locals that will definitely make your visit worth remembering."
- Nathalie Penados from Surigao City, Surigao del Norte
"Most people believe that the Philippine's best beaches can only be found in Luzon (Palawan) and Visayas (Boracay, Cebu, Bohol). But there are also world class beaches in Mindanao such as the more popular ones in Siargao and Samal, and lesser known Dahican Beach in Mati, Gumasa Beach in Glan, Saranggani, Malamawi White Beach in Basilan, Quezon Beach in Patikul, Sulu and Santa Cruz Island's Pink Sand Beach in Zamboanga City. I invite everyone to visit and explore the beautiful beaches in Mindanao!"
- Earl E. Bolivar from Malaybalay City, Bukidnon
Misconception: "That Mindanao is not a safe place to go to or live in."
Truth: "Mindanao is a very big land mass that has a very rich natural resources and diverse cultures and traditions. Mindanaoans have coexisted peacefully and the diversity serves as colorful threads that make a beautiful tapestry."
- Ida Nanette Damo from Davao City
"Mindanao is commonly stereotyped as a war zone. I am a pure Mindanaoan, born and raised in the heart of Mindanao, Bukidnon. Its very saddening when people who haven't been to Mindanao labels my "home" as a war zone. They thought kidnapping and bombings are very rampant in Mindanao. It's quite amusing when they picture Mindanao as such. Well, we cannot deny the fact that the "Maguindanao Massacre" and recent bombing incidents have plastered a really bad image for the whole island. But its not all about that, Mindanao is beautiful. Gorgeous white sand beaches, numerous waterfalls, rolling hills, great food, our rich heritage culture, and warm & friendly people. One has to pay a visit and experience the beauty of our dear home and see it differently. Only the good. Organically grown coffee is on me. Anytime."
- Shugah Pauline Diez Gonzales from Quezon, Bukidnon
"The biggest misconception about Mindanao is that the island is war-torn and wars are everywhere, and peace is nowhere. The truth is that these so-called wars are a result of decades-long misunderstanding and which spilled over as a skirmish and done by those who think robbery, kidnapping, torture and murder is a way of life. The peoples of Mindanao, though diverse, have lived in peace many years ago and the wars as they say are a result of a rebellion from the disgruntled men and their supporters. They are disgruntled because poverty is high compared to others areas in the country and they opted for crimes to seek attention. Government responded by hunting them down, one by one, resulting to isolated skirmishes. If there are happenings in Maguindanao, it is not and will never happen in Mindanao, only that one province’s folly into a war and a bastion of rebellion that it becomes an easy magnet for law enforcement and the ensuing counter-attacks of rebels and insurgents. There is peace in Mindanao and we live in peace. The war is just government-made to make it appear that the island is in chaos and no hope but start living here and you will know the biggest difference of the reality from the stories one read and hear."
- Doc Wends from Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur
"Mindanao is not Maguindanao. Mindanao is the second largest island of the Philippines while Maguindanao is just a small province, not even a region. Mindanao is a paradise where culture is rich, where nature is at its best, and where life is abundant. It is more than just another jungle where rebels hide."
- Sheen Di from Cotabato City
"Many people are afraid of Mindanao. They misconceive Mindanao as terrorism hub of the country. Any unfortunate happenings in a minute region is unfairly accounted to the whole vast island. Terrorism happens not only in Mindanao, but also in the metro and even in the comfort of your own home. The truth is Mindanao possesses the country’s best. It is a home to scenic seascapes (Sulu, Surigao and Saranggani), highest summits (Bukidnon and North Cotabato), majestic waterfalls (Lanao del Norte and South Cotabato), outdoor adventure sites and diverse living cultures. Mindanao is a misunderstood paradise. So, don’t be afraid of Mindanao. Be afraid of ignorance and fear that narrows down your mind. Nurture your fear and miss the priceless jewels of Mindanao."
- Christopher M. Diaz from Pangantucan, Bukidnon
"With all the recent happening in some isolated conflict areas in Mindanao,the local news has made the image of Mindanao a warzone. Tausog love peace.We Muslims live harmoniously with our Christian Brothers and Sisters in Jolo, we may differ in some beliefs but we respect one's point of view."
- Fariza I. Johan from Jolo, Sulu
Don't let the misconceptions hinder you in visiting this lovely island. I invite everyone to visit Mindanao!"
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