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Christmas 2008 in Kidapawan, Philippines

Well the day of Christmas Eve came; we packed up the car, stopped at the gas station to fill up the tank and headed south. From Davao we had to drive to Digos and then West to Kidapawan. I was surprised, with many areas with dirt roads and broken concrete the drive to Kidapawan was smooth roads and easy driving. Of course, there were times we had to pass slow trucks and stopping Jeepneys, but that is normal driving here.Kidapawan is on the other side of Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in Mindanao and the Philippines. Kidapawan is also at a higher elevation than Davao. As we drove, at times there would be views of Mt. Apo with some clouds. We would pass street side vendors selling pottery, carved wood platters and the usual foods and sari-sari stores.

We traveled through Davao City, Davao del Sur and then into North Cotabato which makes news because of the activities of the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF. Well we did not see any of this; all the people and places we passed were peaceful and friendly people.


Well, after 2 1/2 hours of travel we finally arrived in Kidapawan. We stopped at the Jollibee and called Elena’s brother Bong to meet us and direct us to their house. After a few minutes Bong and his daughter Edna arrived on Bongs Motorcycle.

We followed him a short distance and were soon at their home to see again Elena’s other brother Junior, his wife Letty, his daughter Joy from Bislig and some of Bongs in-laws who live nearby.
We then sat down for lunch, there was fried chicken, rice and other delicious items.

We then carried our things into the house we walked to the location Tita, Bongs wife has a fruit stand. We all hugged and chatted about the trip and catching up on life.

Because of the heat and humidity in the house, I would spend more time at the fruit stand and would even joke as a salesman to the people as they walked by saying, “Apples, get your fresh juicy apples for Christmas.
Bongs motorcycle has a metal sidecar platform and a few times I was invited to hop on to go to run some errand. He showed me where he has a food stand where he sells “Chicken Joy”. The stand is a push chart type but built from a bicycle so it can be peddled to the house at night.
Chicken Joy is breaded and fried chicken gizzards. I did not understand, but it is just part of the gizzard and so tender. The stand has a big Wok frying area and the place sells 4 pieces on a skewer and sold for 5 pesos. They are so good, the 2 times we visited, and I ate about 12 pieces.

As the evening approached and the sun was going down we went to get our Lechon Baboy, whole roasted pig. Once home the family started preparing the Feast. There was of course the roasted pig as centerpiece, fried chicken, bowls of Dinuguan, made from the pigs blood and intestines, and Paklay which is fried intestines, fruit salad, Mangos and Elena’s famous Mango Float, which she prepared during the afternoon. As in all Filipino meals, big bowls of plain rice too. Finally all were there, plates were passed out and we all sat to eat and enjoy all the good foods.
After dinner we relaxed to an old, well not too old tradition of karaoke. We finally went upstairs to get to bed, but even though fireworks an illegal in Kidapawan, it did not stop anyone. The explosions were constant and I joked the MILF could be attacking and no one would notice. At times they would through the firecrackers onto the metal roofs and it would sound like a bomb went off. There was also a neighbor with their karaoke blasting and one of the worse singers I have ever heard serenading us to the wee hours of the morning.
With pillows over my ears, I could not block the sound, so I tossed and turned and complained for hours. Finally about 3am the noise calmed down and we fell asleep.
We were woken on Christmas morning about 7:30am for breakfast and to get ready for the days adventure. Elena’s brother Bong hired a van to take us up Mt. Apo to Agco Hot Spring resort. Because of our crowd and Bongs wife’s Tita’s family, we not only filled all the seats in the van but they also brought Bong’s 2 motorcycles, one with the sidecar platform. They also piled in all the left over Lechon and other foods for the day.

The trip was beautiful with lots of scenic views of the area and the mountains. I will write about Agco more in another article in the near future. There was one part of the trip that the grade was so steep, the 2 motorcycles had to be unloaded and the passengers had to walk for a while.
Once there we unloaded the vehicles, paid our entrance and received a location for us to set up our picnic style meal.


We also changed and went swimming in the pools. They have a big pool with cool water and a hot pool fed by hot water from the underground volcanic streams.
After waiting out a rainstorm we packed up and headed back to Kidapawan. Once back dinner was prepared and we had more left over Lechon and other foods. Thankfully most of the fireworks were used up on Christmas Eve and we were able to get a decent night’s sleep.
Friday morning we woke up, had a nice breakfast and then packed up the car. After hugs, kisses, thanks and good wishes we piled into the car for our drive home.
This was my third Filipino Christmas and my second Christmas with our extended family Itwas wonderful seeing everyone and enjoying Christmas in a different culture. Each day here, I am usually learning more about the Filipino culture and trying to understand and become more adapt in the life here.
I hope all my readers had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Please let me know if you have any interesting holiday stories or traditions.

6 Responses to “Christmas 2008 in Kidapawan, Philippines”

  1. macky says:

    i've been to agco hot springs twice, but this was back in the 90s.

    i have good memories of the place, but it may be because both times i was heading down from a mt.apo hike. anytime you go on a 4 day hike up 10,000+ feet, a dip into hot springs will only give you good memories. curiously, i can barely remember how the facilities look like.

    you seem to be assimilating well & it looks like you have a wonderful family & friends. happy new year.

  2. Bruce says:

    Macky,
    Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my story. YEs, I am assimilating well in most cases and trying to understand and accept diffrences in cultures, even if some are hard to follow.
    I did not want to fill my Christmas Story with too much about Agco and its photos. I will soon post one with more photos to kick the old memory back.
    I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  3. macky says:

    Bruce, i forgot to mention that I’ve been enjoying your writing style. you tell a good tale.

    i look forward to your future posts (even though i don’t comment often).

    by the way, you had a better ride down Agco than i did. i had to hitch a ride atop a jeepney with my backpack. best view in the house! (breathing mask sold separately).

  4. Bruce says:

    Macky,
    Thanks. I do like comments so I know my readers and there thoughts about the blogs. I did look at your one open blog and Congrats on your books success. I am a fustrated artist and have lost my touch since puberty. I admire the creative mind.
    Tell your friends and family, I would like to increase readers and possibably make a few centavos too.

  5. ghee says:

    hello!I stumbled upon your site through mybloglog and got interested in your stories.

    ive never been to davao,though my husband and me had been to cebu along with his friends.

    i enjoyed reading your posts,esp this one that made me crave for filipino traditional meal!

    i`ll visit again later!

    happy new year!
    ghee

  6. Bruce says:

    Ghee,
    Thanks for stumbling, I hope you did not hurt yourself. 🙂
    I hope you will continue to enjoy my stories and please tell your friends. I will read yours too.
    Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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