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    Posted January 16, 2015 by
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
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    Mindanao, from Samal to Surallah.


    It has been a few years ago since I submitted my first article to CNN Ireport, since then many literary compositions and photographs have been published. The numerous, positive, reactions given by the readers of CNN encouraged me to keep on writing and to continue to publish my stories and images. Mostly, I write about the Island of Mindanao because am convinced that the various cultures and religions in Mindanao have more in common than they have differences. I do not believe in the negative image that this fascinating place has gained in the traditional media, both locally and abroad. Mindanao is often portrayed as a war zone and one of the wildest and lawless parts of the Philippines. However, for me personally, Mindanao is still one of the most beautiful places on earth where its natural attractions and sites are one of the best-kept secrets in the Philippines. But the real treasures are, beyond any doubt, its friendly, peace- loving and warm-hearted people.


    About 2 years ago I decided to write a book about my favourite island, but as months passed by, I realized that my first effort of writing was much harder than I could ever imagine. Nevertheless I am not a person that gives up easily and continued my struggle with the blank pages and the battle with words on my computer screen. It took some drips of sweat and sometimes a few tears to finish my manuscript. I wanted it to be an informative guide for those travellers who are not familiar with the Southern Filipino culture. Moreover, it should be a lot more than the average destination guide featuring nature, culture, legends, festivals, adventure, the local cuisine, every-day life, brief bits of history and various Philippine phenomena. Filling the pages was a painstaking process; eventually I was able to complete some 200 pages with an estimated 210 stunning full-colour photographs of several destinations along only a 300 kilometres long stretch of the Maharlika Highway. Finding a title for the book was agonizing; I needed to capture the contents of an entire book in just a few words. After plenty of serious deliberation and a fair amount of unasked, but spontaneous and well-intentioned advice from family and friends the book was given the title “Mindanao, from Samal to Surallah”. As far as I was concerned this should cover all the chapters. Writing this book turned out to be a daunting task, having it published was difficult and proved to be a greater challenge.

    I had to collect all my courage and finally contacted a publisher in San Francisco; he agreed in accepting my manuscript and wrote me it probably would take a long time to have it reviewed and even longer before he could tell me if it was good enough or not. I did not mind waiting; at least it was not refused. Anyway, I became more enthusiastic and delivered my manuscript, for publication in the Dutch language, at the doorstep of a publisher in the Netherlands. A well-known answer was given; “thank you....we will let you know!” But after submitting my manuscript, I also had to admit that I was afraid to experience the uncertainty of getting it published and feel the unavoidable pain of putting my work out into the big bad world. The prospect of letting other people, in fact total strangers, judge about my number one creative brainchild, my words and photographs that I have carefully compiled between the front cover and the backside was not quite something I looked forward to. A few questions kept on going on in my mind over and over again, would they like it or reject it?, would it be a success or a failure?, did I give too much information or did I leave too much out? Is there really anyone out there who is interested in Mindanao? And what would their reaction be? Will the book finally end up in a bookstore and on what kind of shelf?

    Three months later, the San Francisco based publishing Company informed me that they will publish the English edition of my book. Call it coincidence or not, but in the same week, talks with the publisher in the Netherlands for the Dutch version were completed, another victory came my way, there will be a Dutch edition as well, in print and E-book. With this book, Mindanao, especially, the provinces of Davao, Sarangani and South Cotabato, will be included in the list of exceptional and interesting travel destinations. Justice at last!


    (Image by Ad Coerse)

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