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The Everyday at Cateel Davao Oriental

DSC_1661If I were having a gourmet dinner, Cateel was the main course of my recent Davao Oriental trip.

Sachi was such a great host. She rarely comes home. So she was sincerely excited to explore her hometown, visit relatives, and talk Mandaya—their own dialect that has a trace of Bisaya but not quite. The word most vivid in my head is “ampan.”

Sachi’s old house was uprooted, wrecked  with hundreds of houses and trees during Pablo. I witnessed how she almost did a karoshi (I’m just exaggerating) to amass funding for the building of their new nest. She is your perfect daughter. And I play the demonic ate at work.

DSC_1670Cateel River is rather long, wide, and alive. Some fishermen were net-fishing. We were on our way to Tina, when we spotted this atong (dodong in Cebuano) across the river. It is his job to ferry locals living across for five pesos a person. It has been a while since Sachi rode one, while I just had one the day. So we had an instant river cruising.

DSC_1458The walking umbrellas amused me. I was talking with Nong Orpheus (Sachi’s father, the one holding his grandson) when these umbrellas passed by.  The fence used to be the house’s roof. But it was too Pabloed for a roof.

DSC_1463We went to Santa Fe, the closest sea from their new place. These kids found the water delightful. They sometimes chased small fish. Sachi found the heat intolerable, so she walked around with a hood in a freakingly hot day. We found two men net-fishing, and Sachi shouted if they could get us some fresh “lato” (a type of edible seaweed.) A man resurfaced with a handful of “lato!” We had it for lunch.

DSC_1475The boy got curious with the camera. I got curious with the laundry. This is the country’s way of drying clothes. We still do this in Tuburan.

DSC_1479Locally called dumang, this dried and milled chili is Sachi’s favorite. A bottle cost P150. After coming back to their place, we dipped the huge santols on salt and dumang. It was not that hot.

DSC_1484While Sachi had her nails done by the bakery, I walked around looking for ice cream and banana cake. I saw this kid outside a beautiful pastel house. He seemed crying. On my way back, he was still there with his head down.

DSC_1488It has been seven months already since Pablo wrecked Cateel and the neighboring towns. But its terror could still be seen and felt here and there. This house is by the park, still far from completion.

DSC_1490We called this ginanggang in Cebu. Their name is quite close to it. It was sold P5 apiece.

DSC_1495This is Sachi, the beautiful Cateelina. She now has the time to look for a boyfriend.  😉

DSC_1498This boy was just somewhat goofing around inside the church. The priest performed a religious ceremony for a funeral. During the “Amahan Namo,” a song that requires one to hold hand with the other churchgoers or to have one’s hand heavenward, this boy straightened up.

DSC_1505There was a ruin beside the church. We passed by this building during our early round-and-about and asked Sachi if we could visit this. One could tell that Pablo did this to the old school.

DSC_1509Don’t you love windows? Don’t you love looking at the world outside the window, the world that the window framed? I do.

DSC_1513God saw what you did. God saw what you did, Pablo. Pablo was God. God was Pablo.

DSC_1527The triangles. Or the wings. Or the fans.

DSC_1532Sachi and the Downy-smelling laundry.

DSC_1536 DSC_1541 DSC_1543 DSC_1546 DSC_1550

I love how this vine drooped on the window. It looked like a natural curtain.
DSC_1561 So I asked Sachi to take some frames of me here. Before I knew it, she directed my posture, my smile. Haha! I recently wore correctional braces, so my smile usually came off. DSC_1565I love this! Despite my duck face!

DSC_1571 It’s been seven months but the electricity was barely restored here. DSC_1572Locals in Davao Oriental have fascinating way of riding habal-habal. I saw one sitting atop a bucket.


This sight is common in most parts of Mindanao. During my Surigao del Sur’s trip, the habal-habal driver said that these trees called falcata were actually farmed and harvested. But it is still heartbreaking to see a lot of trees like that: dead.
DSC_1606 One of the farmers we met at the roadside. We were riding motorized (Cateel’s word for tricycle), when we saw farmers harvesting rice one dying afternoon. DSC_1630 They actually loved posing in front of the cameras. But I wanted candid ones! Haha! DSC_1632 Sachi tinkering my phone, waiting for me to finish my shutter craziness. DSC_1633The rice we eat looks like this. Beautiful.

DSC_1643 DSC_1654On our way back to the road, we saw these things by the tree. I love countryside life. Its simplicity is never simple.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at Find me somewhere else!

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