A German Expat in The Philippines: WITH BEETHOVEN UNDER PALMS (XVI)

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By Klaus Döring
May 24, 2021

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Chapter VXI: Terrible homesickness

Ludwig van Beethoven and all my classical masters seemed to be thousands of miles away. Rossana and I reached the Philippines together with our four best friends from Berlin in March 1989 for another six weeks long vacation. Of course, we wanted to show our friends the most beautiful and best sides of Davao City and Mindanao. The known political situation gave us limits. But, we tried it.

Relatives and good connections arranged an appointment with then Cotabato City Mayor Ludovico Badoy. While writing this chapter, I learned that Vic Badoy passed away in April 2021.

As the national executive director of the NHC, Badoy was credited for the renovation of the historic “Bahay Kalakal” (Ker and Co.) building in Iloilo City in 2018. Agriculture Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan remembered the late mayor as a leader who made Cotabato City peaceful, orderly, clean and a vibrant city.

And even in 1989, we had nothing to worry about. Roaming around, but with a group of six bodyguards, we enjoyed the two wonderful days stay in Cotabato City. And I got my interview with the mayor for my ANG MABUHAY magazine in Berlin. On the way back to Davao, some bombs and grenades exploded. Nothing happened to us.

Our thirst for adventure didn't seem to slow. Of course, our four friends wanted to experience something, but it was clear to Rossana and me, that we should not overdo it. After all, we were responsible for their security.

But, again with several bodyguards our next destination was within reach several days later: Mount Diwata, also locally unofficially nicknamed Diwalwal, is a remote 1,261-metre (4,137 ft) high range of volcanic mountain and biodiversity area in Davao Region on eastern part of Mindanao island of Philippines. Rich in gold and copper ores and mines, it is spread across the 3 municipalities: (a) Monkayo in the province of Compostela Valley; as well as (b) Cateel, and (c) Boston in the province of Davao Oriental. Laguna Copperplate Inscription, the oldest written document in the Philippines dated to 900 CE, refers to Mount Diwata.

A dizzying hanging bridge brought us to the Bagobos. Along the desolate eastern coast of the Davao Gulf, centuries ago, new migrants mixed with the native population, forming a new community that was given the name Bagobo.

This tribe traces its origin from the people who brought Hinduism to Mindanao, its name was derived from the words bago meaning new and obo meaning growth. Throughout centuries a strong social structure has enabled these native groups to blend well with the original population, retaining their indigenous customs, beliefs and values.

The mountainous region between the upper Pulangi and Davao rivers is the homeland of the Upland Bagobo. The Coastal Bagobo once lived in the hills south and east of Mount Apo, where according a legend, their supreme god and common ancestor Apo Sandawa ruled as God. Mount Apo is the Bagobo ancestral domain and their sacred place of worship.

The weeks flew by. Rossana developed a certain sentimentality during the last few days. She called it homesickness. Me too. And we found out that both of us got the same feelings: one home - two countries. A very tearful goodbye party is still in my memories.

A particularly historic event awaited us in Berlin a couple of months later: the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Rossana and I joined the peaceful revolutions and helped tear down the Berlin Wall. A piece of the wall that we broke out then is still in a special place in our house in the Philippines. 

And then? When I got back from the office, Rossana had a very important message from Los Angeles for me.

(To be continued)

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