The charming town of CATEEL in Davao Oriental is considered as the WATER WONDER of the Province because of its majestic cascading waterfalls, long unspoiled coastlines, pristine beaches and clean rivers. More than a water wonder, CATEEL is blessed with other natural wonders that truly made it a perfect destination to discover and explore.
Tatlong taon na ang nakalipas mula ng humambalos ang Bagyong Pablo dito sa malawak na bahagi ng aming Probinsya ng Davao Oriental kabilang na dito ang malawak na bahagi ng aming bayan ng Cateel. Maliban sa mga tirahan, pangkabuhayan, at mga magagandang tanawin, hindi mapagkakailang nagdulot rin ito ng matinding takot sa mga mamamayan. Pagkalipas ng mahigit tatlong taon, ang CATEEL ngayon ay larawan ng isang maunlad at matatag na bayan. Isang bayang puno ng pag-asa.
Narito ang aking video blog ang magpapakita sa inyo ng mga larawan ng pagbabago at magsasalaysay ng mga kwento ng bagong simula mula sa aming bayan na minsa’y sibubok at hinamon ni Inang Kalikasan ngunit pinatatag at pinatibay sa paglipas ng panahon.
I was standing before the majestic Aliwagwag Falls enjoying leisurely the view as the waters cascade from tier to tier. Branches of verdant trees on the both side are swaying and they seemed like dancing to the sound of the cascading waters. Amazed tourists paused for a while to marvel at the dumbfounding beauty of the country’s highest waterfalls. Everyone is at awe of our town’s crown jewel which is recently developed into the world-class eco park, the Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park, which was built two years after we were hit by Typhoon Pablo. How can I forget the face of this majestic waterfall just days after the storm ravaged it? She was like a helpless woman brutally battered, beaten and raped. But three years after that unforgettable catastrophe, Aliwagwag Falls is back to her shape – more beautiful, more promising. Indeed, where there’s water, there’s life.
As I stood there staring at the falls, my mind was meandering going back and forth to the three years of what our town, my beloved hometown of Cateel in Davao Oriental, has gone through dealing the aftermath of the most destructive typhoon ever to hit that year. For a town that never experience such massive destruction, the challenges of leaving the past behind and moving forward to start a brand new beginning was never easy. It takes a bravest heart to accept such dismaying fate. And it takes so much courage to move on.
People lost their homes. Others even lost their loved ones. Agricultural lands were flattened. Coconut trees that serve as main source of income were wiped out. Buildings, schools, churches and infrastructures were damaged if not completely destroyed. Ground zero. These were among pictures of what happened on that sad morning of December 4, 2012. That day will never ever be forgotten.
Our people were challenged. Our courage was tested. Some seemed hopeless. Children were traumatized. Few even left. But for majority, we carried on. We fought to survive. People learn to sleep on their make shift houses. They braved the cold nights and braved the sweltering day heat even more. Things were never be same again, many thought so. But we just had to carry on.
In one my visits during the aftermath of typhoon, I learned to sleep in our roofless house as darkness devoured it by night. I remembered lying on that sturdy bed and how my tears rolled from my eyes as I gazed upon the dark skies filled with stars that served as my ceiling for some nights. It was a heartbreaking experience. People learned to wait for food ration. We learned to go by. And bit by bit we learned to become resilient people.
But when there’s unimaginable calamity, there is also this opportunity to see the goodness of humanity. Help came. The world seemed to unite to come to us and bring not only help but also hope to get by. People from around the globe come to offer assistance. The NGO’s, the private sectors and international organizations came to help alleviate the lives of the people. The government – local, provincial and national – played a vital role in restoring and rehabilitating what was lost and damaged. Together, they help build back lives. Slowly, we coped. Slowly, we moved forward.
The wounds caused by Typhoon Pablo were slowly healing. People are getting back to their lives. Those who lost their homes get new ones. Those farms that are severely destroyed by the monstrous winds are replanted again. Alternative sources of living are introduced. Those who are jobless are taught with new livelihood trainings. Many, especially those who benefited so much from the different aid and assistance given to all victims, somehow considered Typhoon Pablo as a blessing in disguise.
SOME DEVELOPMENTS CONSTRUCTED AFTER TYPHOON PABLO
Those whose coconut plantation were flattened, they started planting chili. And so chili production and processing became significant. Locals called it Dumang but now it is more popularly known as Hot Pablo. Many benefitted from this alternative source of living. By products are sold abroad. Indeed, slowly, we’re moving in the right direction.
Many sourced to planting cacao trees that can bear fruits and harvested in two years. And so I see another industry thriving in the years to come. During my summer vacation with twiddy last year, I saw some banana, cassava and taro chips sold in the stores. I found out they were locally manufactured in Cateel. It melted my heart as I sampled the taste of a local delicacy starting to become a pasalubong item from my hometown. This made me prouder about our people, our town.
Traveling to the hinterlands of Cateel, the denuded hills even on the sides of the highways are green again. But you see all trees in uniform. Falcata trees are sprouting like mushrooms. These are variety of trees that can be harvested in 5 to 8 years and worth millions of pesos. Months after the devastating tragedy, locals started planting harvestable trees especially on those areas flattened by Pablo. You see, our people are moving forward. Really fast.
Three years after the massive catastrophe, blessings still pour in not only in my hometown of Cateel but also the towns of Baganga and Boston which were hard-hit too by Typhoon Pablo. Housing projects are still given to the victims. For some, their houses now are way better compared to the ones destroyed by Typhoon Pablo. For those whose livelihood depends on the bounty of the sea were given new fishing boats and fishing gears. They were given not only resilient homes and new boats, but they were given hope to sail on, start anew and dream again.
More than three years have passed now and our town including our neighboring towns of Baganga and Boston and so with our people are really moving forward from the wrath of Typhoon Pablo. There are so many things to be grateful. And that includes all those who help rehabilitate and reconstruct these three towns – the government, NGOs and private groups. They build not only our homes, not only our bridges but they concreted the hopes and dreams of the people who are once tested by the rage of nature. But I must say, the courage of our people, their will to survive from the very start and their hopeful disposition to move forward are above all commendable.
Our story is inspiring. Our story is beyond tragedy. Our stories are beautiful tales of hopes and new beginnings.
CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR! And ’tis a season of giving again. Now on it’s 4th year, join The Travel Teller and his friends for the annual “The Travel Teller Gives Back” with its theme “Magpasaya ng mga Kabataang Mandaya Ngayong Pasko!”.
This year’s recipients are pupils of Patong Elementary School, Spur Dos Elementary School and May-Laya Primary School, three of the farthest schools in Cateel where 90% of the population are Mandayas. These schools are among the hard-hit places when Typhoon Pablo ravage the town in December 4, 2012. These kids were among the survivors of the monstrous disaster.
BE OUR PARTNER and become a way to make our little IP brothers and sisters merrier this Christmas. Contact us and we will be delighted to have you as our sponsors. We invite you too to join us in my hometown of Cateel for this gift giving affair scheduled on December 18-20, 2015.
For your pledges, you may call or text 0939-342-3939. Salamatay gayud kamayo.
When Super Typhoon Pablo ravaged everything in our hometown of Cateel including the vast coconut plantation which is the town’s major source of income, our people learn to find ways to make the most of what’s left to them. Though some go back to planting coconuts that bear fruits in five years, there are vast agricultural lands now that are converted to cacao, cassava and vegetable farms. In fact today, farm produce sold in the town proper are supplied by local growers. But among the alternative sources of livelihood flourishing in our town, the chili production and processing is considered the most promising. The production is growing and the demand is increasing.
Chili production and processing is not new to our hometown. Long before it becomes the leading alternative source of living months after horrible catastrophe, Cateeleños grow native chili already and process dried chili powder locally called “dumang”. But dumang making then was more popular in the hinterlands of Cateel.
Growing up in this rustic town, this red hot chili powder has always been part of our dining table. Come and visit every home in our town, you will see that every table has this. It’s part of our meal. Everytime we eat, it always comes with a mouthwatering sawsawan (dipping sauce) filled with red hot dumang. Even eating lay-ob (boiled bananas and kamote), it’s paired with an appetizing ginamos (bagoong) lavishly topped with this spicy hot pulverized chili.
But what was once a smalltime livelihood is now considered a booming industry not only in my hometown of Cateel but also its neighboring towns of Boston and Baganga. Months after the ravaging onslaught of the Typhoon Pablo, the chili production and processing was intensely encouraged as alternative source of livelihood in these three towns. With the assistance coming from the government, NGOs and the private sector, the program has sustained. Although there are other alternative sources introduced to our people but chili production was widely accepted.
Back then, only native chili peppers were used to make Dumang – native chili are known to be spiciest. After Typhoon Pablo, new varieties of chili were introduced – the Scotch bonnet, Astig and Pinatubo. These are varieties where farmers can grow and harvest in three months’ time. But of course growing of native chili is still extensively encouraged.
With the introduction of new variety of chili in Cateel as alternative livelihood source, there are number of agricultural lands now converted to chili farms. Farmers are starting to like the idea of growing chili and harvesting it within a short period of time. 200 hills of chili can produce 8 to 12 kilos of chili peppers in a week and they grow and bear peppers for 2 years.
Today, chili farming is widely spread in all the 16 barangays of Cateel including some areas in Poblacion. In Subangon Dumang Makers, the leading chili processing plant in our town, there are 150 chili farmers supplying chili peppers on regular basis – a great indication that indeed this is definitely growing. Aside from processing red hot powdered chili or Dumang, they now also make other chili products like dried chili pepper and crushed chili. Because this industry grows strongly after Typhoon Pablo, locals sometimes coined it “Hot Pablo”.
While production and processing is growing, there is a great need to increase the demand. This is the biggest challenge that both chili growers and the dumang makers are facing now. Although the products have reached as far as Manila and Cebu including of course Davao, the need to widen the market is still at work. Thus, it is their ardent hope that both the government and the private sectors will continue to help them sustain this booming livelihood program.
Our people are optimistic that this spicy blessing will flourish and that it will them give better hope for a better future. They have been resilient they embrace all the possibilities of restoring back all that was lost to them and for these farmers, chili will help them restore those dreams.
“Building Back Better”, this is the cry of every Cateeleño in our hometown. With the help of the government, the NGO’s and the private sectors, our town and our people are moving forward from that monstrous day Typhoon Pablo came to destroy our homes and our sources of living . Call it alternative source of living or even temporary but chili farming – its production and processing – is a great proof that our hometown and its resilient people can rise above the darkest days our lives – proof that we can get through all storms of our lives.
FOR ORDERS AND OTHER INFORMATION, you may call:
SUBANGON DUMANG MAKERS (Cateel, Davao Oriental)
Look for Ricky Arisola or Lulu Reyes (0917-498-9273)