Iligan Through The Eyes of An Outsider

I love to travel. Traveling, for me, is not only an opportunity to see the beauty of the world but it is also an avenue for learning invaluable lessons. Each place offers lessons unique to it aside from the magnificent tourist destinations and mouthwatering delicacies.

I’ve only been to Mindanao twice. First was when my family and I spent the Holy Week at South Cotabato and Davao in 2011, and second was when I went to Dapitan to profoundly understand Jose Rizal. Philippine media is very centralized on Luzon particularly on Metro Manila that I tend to forget that there are other parts of the Philippines worthy of notice too. I am not really familiar with Iligan, to be honest. To me, it is just another city of the Philippines whose geographical location I had to memorize for a map exam during my freshman year in college. I don’t really hear it often until typhoon Sendong swept Northern Mindanao and brought devastation upon Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. The media, ever-ready to report what’s hot, continually gave updates about the condition of said cities. It was then that I started to take notice of Iligan. Ironically, it was during Iligan’s worst disaster that I discovered its beauty and learned to appreciate not only the city but its people as well.

The following reasons compel me to visit Iligan City someday:

 1. To see how it has been doing since Sendong.  
I have always been astonished with success stories. Reading and hearing about how people or communities were able to pull through difficult challenges never fail to give me shivers and inspire me. During the onset of Sendong, I saw on the news how Iliganons lost their loved ones – families, relatives, friends, neighbors – and properties. It was deeply saddening…frustratingly hopeless…utterly devastating... 
Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the Geneva-based UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, shared a touching interview/encounter with one Iliganon named Mrs. Valdez. Mrs. Valdez lost four family members on December 17 and she was terribly crying but she surprised everyone when she suddenly smiled and said, “pero buhay ang asawa ko” (But my husband is alive). This is something that a Filipino can say amidst misery. Filipinos have mastered how to think positively and bounce back everytime we meet a misfortune. We always find reasons to move forward and go on. Faith has always been the strongest suit of Filipinos. I believe Iliganon’s faith in God and their devotion to Señor San Miguel help them through Sendong and its aftereffects for it is through toughest times when we have nothing that our faith burns strongest. We cannot manipulate events but we can control how we respond to them. I guess this was the mantra of Iliganons that helped them survive despite all the loss they’ve incurred. The solidarity of Iligan as one community, one family was beyond amazing.
The Rotary International and ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity, put up tents to serve as temporary shelters for the victims in a place usually referred to as the “tent city.”
The tent city put up in Iligan City for victims of Sendong.
It might be far from what the victims used to have and their current condition may not compensate for what they’ve lost but it is already a big leap. I heard that Iligan has somehow recovered from that nightmare but it is an event that will visit or haunt the victims forever. A visit in Iligan wouldn’t be complete if I don’t get the chance to talk to these people, know their stories and be inspired by their character. 
2. To witness harmony between religions.
Conflict between Christianity and Islam is as ancient as any feud there is. When I was a kid, I used to believe that it’s impossible for a Christian and a Muslim to become friends. Apparently, I was completely wrong. In Iligan, one’s religion doesn’t matter as much as it does in other places. Iliganons live harmoniously regardless of what religion a person adheres to. They respect each other as what their respective religions preach, accept their differences in religious views, and promote unity. Afterall, they are all Iliganons. If Iligan attained unity despite diversity then there’s no reason for the entire Philippines and the world to achieve the same. True faith is not about imposing one’s beliefs to other people but it’s translating one’s beliefs into compassionate acts.
It would be amazing to just stand in the busy streets of Iligan and watch Christians and Muslims mingle with one other as though no antagonism ever existed between the two religions. That would be just awesome! 
3. To feast eyes on its beauty.
And, of course, as every traveler desires, I would love to visit Iligan to set eyes on its beautiful tourist destinations. Iligan is the City of Majestic Waterfalls. It is every Filipino’s secret desire to see Maria Cristina Falls and the hidden beauty of Tinago Falls because we all encountered them from our Sibika at Kultura (Civic and Culture) class in grade school. I can still remember looking at the black and white picture of Maria Cristina falls in our textbook, thinking how amazing it would be to actually see it, hear the soothing sound as the water cascades, and feel the cloud of water mist upon my face. 
A photo of Maria Cristina Falls captured by Rev Adan found on
A photo of Tinago Falls taken by Bonzenti Panganiban found on Nature Scape blog.
I always knew that pictures don’t give justice to the falls because the real thing is always a million times better than the images. Waterfalls are wonders of the earth. Iligan is very blessed to have 23 on their territory. It is marvelous to see a waterfall but to see all 23 waterfalls of Iligan would just be stupendous! It would definitely make my month, year even.
I was wrong when I considered Iligan just an ordinary city before. It is not. God blessed it with picturesque natural resources and beautiful people. Iligan is beyond extraordinary.

*This is an official entry to the Iligan Blogging Contest 2012.


  1. Congratulations on your " Award Winning " blog about my favorite place to enjoy my vacation, Iligan City. I have traveled half way around the world to see and experience Iligan City and look forward to returning again. I hope someday you will be able to visit Iligan as no matter what your interests are, you will find them in Iligan.

    1. Thank you, Bob! I will surely visit Iligan. Hopefully, during the summer. It's a beautiful place with wonderful people. Thanks for dropping by/ :)

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