The Tragic and Magic of Dinadiawan: The Eden of the Province of Aurora


Love For Places


he road to Eden was certainly not for the weak-hearted fellows, and more certainly not for the weak-stomached. But even if you belong to this fraction of the population, there is no way you would want to miss the magic of the whitest sands of the North, the comfort of the coldest waterfalls, the taste of the perfected rice cake, and the warmth of the hospitable smiles of the people of Dipaculao in Dinadiawan, Aurora. The zigs and the zags continually hit the road until its final destination. But every sharp turn was definitely worth it.

It was a force I felt while glancing at the various shots I took from Dinadiawan. Every lowering down of exposure values, enhancing the contrasts, adjusting the clarity, and lessening the highlights brings me to a new level of affinity to the place. I fall in love bit by bit to its formidable beauty. We were told it is the most beautiful place among the five far-flung communities that we were about to immerse ourselves into – gather valuable information about their energy situation, and eventually propose a potential solution. And although I do not have a reference point for the comparison, needless to do so, the place is clearly a remarkable one.

In the bubbling of my thoughts and in my day-dreaming state of consciousness on this newly uncovered land, this music right here by Hozier seemed to have sensed my half-present presence, popping its words and tune in the perfect time:

Although the interpretation of the music is essentially about a man enticing a woman he is deeply in love with, to cheat on the husband, this song does not make it any less perfect for Dinadiawan:

Babe, there’s something tragic about you

Something so magic about you

Don’t you agree?

Babe, there’s something lonesome about you

Something so wholesome about you

Get closer to me

As magical as the Dinadiawan is, an underlying tragedy in the eyes of its residence booms. The outskirts – the sitios – suffer from the lack of energy supply, in the form of electricitySome of them wishes to connect to the grid to connect more to the World outside their paradise. They wanted a television to feel more involved, however, all they can afford to power are their light bulbs, and that even, is available at a high price. Having been exposed briefly, if not deeply and widely, to what the community could offer, the answers to their needs may be within their reach. But it is yet far to grasp. Yes, so near, yet so far.

The lyrical connection continues…

 

Honey, you’re familiar like my mirror years ago

Idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword

Innocence died screaming, honey, ask me I should know

I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door

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Perhaps the initial attraction burst when I saw my hometown, Masbate, in the pieces of Dinadiawan, cracking one corner at a time. On the way, the road is becoming more and more familiar. Not just the way the landscapes and the horizon look like, but particularly the way it made me feel. Somehow, it felt like Home.

The sun is nowhere to be seen that day. Rain falling alternately with very fine and with semi-heavy drops. But mostly, the in-betweens were taken by the soft damp breeze from the sea and the whistling winds from the palm trees.

It was a fine day. Exhausting, but fine. We all know that something good is about to happen. We are at the edge of meeting the Eden of the Province of Aurora. We dropped the windows down, full on its potential. And wholeheartedly welcomed the breezing dampness and the whistling whistles as our presence is welcomed back. Glad on the settling reciprocation, we froze momentary pieces of the blooming connection. Not so long an hour, we reached our home we’d stay in for two days. It was not what we expected. 

The house has three rooms, well maintained as what we perceived with the beds and the receiving area. It was really meant for the guests to indulge. Beside the house is the Barangay Hall and a Health Station. And another wooden house.

On our first night, we planned for our routine on the next two days, on how to cope with the community, on how to get to know them, and how to somehow propose a solution to their impending energy problems.

That night, we encountered these men who came from the other parts of Aurora, travelling with their big trucks. We learned that they were merely spending the night in the wooden house. They had flat tires and the Barangay Captain is queer enough to offer them a place to crash in. Oh, the camaraderie among strangers. It is beautiful. How often do we experience this in the city side?

Tomorrow is yet another day, yet in this place, in every tomorrow, you see this constant thing. A peaceful view of the mountains, layered with its calmness and vastness. Won’t you love to wake up to this? Drinking your morning coffee over this wonder? Staring blankly, yet fully?

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Today, we decided to trek to a run-off river located just a few kilometers away from the Guest House. The Barangay Captain was kind enough to arrange a transportation and a guide for us. Embarking from our jump-off point, the littlest details of the nature were seeping through the lens of my camera. The details barely asked for attention, but surely they deserve some acknowledgement for their existence. Here’s a few. You may click on any of the images to show more of Dinadiawan.

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Halfway, our group encountered a few of the Indigenous People in the area. They were seated forming a circle, cheering on their “beers”. Since I was busy stopping from time to time taking random shots of the beauty of Dinadiawan, I was almost alone when I saw them. I greeted them with a smile and a “Hi”. And as I took a snap of them, some were actually ecstatic. One enthusiastically asking me to take a shot of what they were drinking. I may have had as well sat there and shared stories with them, but the hydro data were waiting for us. So, I politely declined the offer.

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Content with our gathered data, we went back and took the same route. We saw each other again – the Indigenous People. Now on a different scene. They actually made me envy them. The simplicity of the way of their living was so profound it radiates in all the unnamed rocks of the rivers they were dwelling upon and in all the leaves of the trees surrounding them. And seeing them, I didn’t feel privileged. I felt oppressed.

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They were dancing. I didn’t capture the moment. It was a memory worth capturing by the world’s best camera – our eyes. It was too beautiful to let myself be disturbed with technology. They were dancing to the music tuned from the old radio, like fuck, nothing else matters. They were not even conscious of their bodily rhythms if it beats with the tempo of the music. I tell you, anyone can dance. They just listen to their instinct. And then they dance. You can see it on their faces. They are genuinely happy, even with the scarcity of the electricity, they are. I smile widely, then sigh heavily to the sound of their laughter. They deserve more than just a radio music to dance to. They may not be complaining (or maybe they are), but they have the right to consume such need. They are oppressed, too. The subservience. In some other way. And so I wonder how much more laughter the world would hear if they were shared fairly with what we have in the fully urbanized places.

We went home. Worked a bit more for our wind data. We made some ocular in the beach nearby. Then took some good time wearing off our tiredness, laying on the white sands of the Eden, watching the sun setting.

                   

We ended our beach experience with beach volleyball with some of the Dinadiawan’s locals. Dinner, then in the darkest of the night, indulged ourselves with one another’s fascinating stories.

What a day.

It was agreed upon that we shall wake up around 5 in the morning to greet the rising of the sun. We did wake up on time but the sun was shy that morning (perhaps every mornings in Dinadiawan). It hid just around the mountains and managed to go up without being seen fully. I guess we were too excited to greet the sun that we actually miscalculated where it will rise. Silly us, aren’t we? Feeling defeated, we went back to our sleep and woke after an hour or two, had our breakfast, greeted by the mountains once again, and trekked to a wonder Falls.

It was a refreshing view. The size of it wasn’t that grand really, but the way it will surprise you, superb. You will walk and trek and slide sometimes, then just when you thought the walking is endless, it actual existence will catch you off guard. It was a sight. And its isolation makes it perfect.

After some cold water splashing, a very rapid site assessment, we trekked back. Headed to the guest house, we know our time with this Eden is about to run out.

It was almost three o’clock. Drizzling. We bid goodbye and expressed our gratitude to the Captain and the ladies in the eatery. We departed Dipaculao. And as we did, the place bore more questions to me than answers. The unforeseen, untapped and not maximized potentials, hindered. Its tragedies and its magic, stirring and mixing and entangling. How are we to cope?

-k.

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