Telex the Tour Guide, Skype Romance, and the CDO River Survey Experience

In my previous post, I mentioned about Bacolod but it was about me and my friend Tine. I find it ironic writing about Visayas that way when I am actually in Mindanao soil. I was unable to capture the entire experience, but I am saving this subsequent blog post to mention another important person in my Bacolod trip with my friend Tine.  And that is none other than our good tour guide Telex. (No, I have not forgotten you, Sir. I was saving my thank you for this post because your utmost hospitality to me and Tine deserves an entire post in itself.)

With Bacolod being my first domestic leisure trip, I had no other means to compare the experience elsewhere. So when I flew to Cagayan De Oro last October 25 to survey a river, it was the first trip where I really felt a severe homesickness. This place is all new to me, I don’t speak Visayan dialect, and I really appreciated the presence of Tine and Telex more during my last out-of-Manila trip prior to CDO. It’s ironic because CDO is a place of extreme activities and well, I’m not exactly the adventurous type. I climbed seven waterfalls with a mountain level 1 difficulty, and I was already like a rolling and noisy can from 4th waterfall to 7th waterfall. I made sure not to look like it in my photos, but yeah, I was sedentary like that:

Mambukal Falls’ Elusive 7th Waterfall with Tiney

Going back to my CDO trip… I was just with my stuffed toy Cookie and my Milan Kundera novel (which I haven’t got the time to read at all!) as I braved the 2 hour turbulent flight. I hate riding planes and well, I was just gripping my rosary the whole time I was up there.

I arrived here with barely any clue of what to do or where to go. To make things worse, it was Signal Number 1 at the time of my flight. So I had moments where the airplane was moving vertically and people were already screaming a little inside the Cebu Pacific airbus. I stifled my screams because my guy seatmate was watching and waiting for me to scream. I did not want to give him any satisfaction. The plane was not able to land its usual route because of the strong winds. Forever thankful to the ultra-skilled pilot of Cebu Pacific for NOT RISKING the passengers just to land the usual way. He found a way to go above the turbulent parts and made a different maneuver as he landed.

Lumbia Airport on a Rainy Evening Landing


Camwhoring before the Turbulent Flight


My only friends who hail from CDO are both engineers who were working in Manila and Qatar, respectively, at the time of my arrival. Fortunately, I had fellow homesick but homely officemates who are working fulltime on the field with me on the Cagayan de Oro river project. They have been in the area for a month already when I arrived. I lived with them for a week, until I got spooked during Undas by a Sendong ghost in the house by Kauswagan road. It was my first ever encounter with witchcraft, so it was really a learning experience. I no longer want to elaborate but I am just thankful that I am now able to work without those setbacks.  Thanks, St. Benedict and Mama Mary (the Mother of God and the Mother of Paulo). I continue to remember in my prayers the 7,000 missing bodies buried by the same river we are surveying here in CDO. Only 1,000 were recovered during the recovery operations here last year.

Sendong's Cagayan de Oro River - The Powerful Force to be Always Reckoned with

Travel buffs are always posting about CDO’s whitewater rafting activities and its proximity to Dahilayan Adventure Park, the longest zipline in the world. I don’t have that experience from this “workation” but I was fascinatingly able to explore the innards of CDO River’s perimeter. I have immensely improved when it comes to being trained as a seasoned geodetic engineer. Two years of office work could not possibly match the level of technical learning I got from this challenging project:

Engr. Helen Mary Labao – camwhore at the GPS baseline

Surveying a river is tough. It’s not as easy as smiling for a camera in the early morning. (No need to post the evening pics cause I look like shit in them already. LOL.)

The Work-related Fieldwork Debutante in the Barracks

I was not able to participate much in the field activities because I was handling all the data taken from the field since September. While the rest of the team battled snake encounters and sharp grass blades piercing their sunburnt skin, I was mostly battling equations and trying to make sense of numerous leveling, traverse, cross section stakeout, and soundings data from my trusty office-issued Sony Vaio laptop which garnered dust and braved all these mental adventures with me.



Fieldwork Preparation of Coordinates from Satellite Image

This is what we find during actual fieldwork for the same area…


The Leveling Data Monsters I had to slay… LOL (I am at leveling loop 140+ now!)

At one point in my almost month-long stay here in Mindanao, I think I tweeted something like: Home is not necessarily a place, but it can also be a person. And I felt by my lonesome on most days because I miss my family and my boyfriend so bad. And the only semblance of family I have here are my officemates who are not living with me anymore after my first week. I practically lived here and stayed here longer than I stayed in Bacolod, Cebu, or Palawan. So as a reluctant traveler by nature, I really learned a lot. Staying here gave me more appreciation for my loved ones; I easily take them for granted when I am in Manila because I see them all the time. I also got to appreciate the wonders of googling a place you’re going to, and having a well-versed friend from the place of interest such as Telex in our Bacolod trip earlier this year.

Skype was VERY helpful.

Missing my love sooooo bad!

Also, I was here in CDO when my first ever successful matchmaking endeavor finally had its fruition. I am really very happy for my two friends Joseph and Maureen for finally meeting after months of BBM and Skyping romance. I love you to bits, you two. <3

Understandably, since I stayed in CDO longer, I was somehow able to discover the good food / accommodation options here despite my missing out on the famous whitewater rafting and zipline activities. I promise to write another post about CDO and show you what I loved about this second place I visited here in Mindanao.

(Trivia in case anyone finds it necessary: My first Mindanao trip was in General Santos City in 4th year high school for a writing contest.)

There’ll be more in the coming days when all this data madness is over.