Bob Martin deserves a mention about his positive feedback of Davao City and Mindanao. An American with Filipina wife, he has lived in Mindanao (mainly Davao and General Santos cities) for the past years. And even if his country of origin often issues travel advisories on Mindanao, his web site www.mindanao.com is a testament that Mindanao is not a land of conflict. It is a land of people from various ethnicities harmoniously living and looking for a progressive Mindanao.
I agree with his statement that most people who consider Mindanao a dangerous place are the ones who never got into the place and will probably have a hard time to disprove their thoughts (and from other media sources) until they go to Mindanao themselves. There are dangerous places to go, of course, but many areas in Mindanao are safe to go. I consider Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City or General Santos City even safer (read: better place to live) than Metro Manila. The thing is that if you go to Mindanao or any other place for the first time, you must exercise caution. He hit the nail when he said “common sense”. 🙂
Whenever I tell people I am from Davao City and they do not know where it is, I tell them it’s in Southern Philippines. They start to paint a grim look at their faces and ask me, “Is it safe there?”. I just shrug off their worries and tell them, “of course!”. Just like the lunch I had with clients at Harbour Plaza last Friday. Their perception about Mindanao is that it’s a land of war and kidnapping and bombing.
Davao City is hosting the Asean Tourism Forum in a few days and I hope it will be a successful one. It’s a chance for Davao City and Mindanao to be known as an area for tourism and not about war, kidnapping and bombing.
I wish journalists will be more responsible about what they write. And may they learn a thing or two from an American like Bob Martin.