Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Going to the ORG in Cotabato City

ORG means Office of the Regional Governor. Regional what?! Well, there is just one. That is of the ARMM or Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. How did I know about this? The jeepneys led me to it. Though the topic was not really just ORG, it included an ORC that I kept asking about! I asked drivers what ORC in their signboards meant and I thought I saw some that had ORG. Many told me "ARMM". when I insisted what those letters meant, no one could tell me exactly. But everyone I asked could describe to me the place and who holds office there! They told me that’s the big boss of ARMM. I even asked a driver saying “like Nur Misuari?” and he laughed telling me “noon pa yun sir”!

It had to be a military guy who clarified these ORC and ORG, but that's a later story. For now, let me refer to the place as ORG.

On my earlier jeep ride (going to the grotto), driver pointed me in the direction of the ORG, so I already knew where I was going next from that “grotto” in Datu Odin. Leaving the grotto, I just told the driver “ORC”, so he let me off at some corner bakery pointing to the direction that I already knew. This road leading to the ORG is unmistakable. Why? Its wide and beautiful! There were tricycles by the bakery, some even asked if I was going to ORC, but I opted to walk. Just to see everything that leads towards it. Just to get to know the place, really. And I enjoyed this walk.

First off, I passed by a manang on the sidwewalk grilling bananas. Yes bananas as in saging na saba! If in metro manila and elsewhere we see banana-cue, here it was different. She was just grilling the fruit with nothing on it. Peeled of course hehe! I asked if it tasted good. She said everybody likes it and it is healthy food. Wow si manang ha, me nalalaman nang ‘healthy food’! When the banana is done from the grill (I don’t know how she knows that hehe), she smothers it with margarine and roll it over white sugar. I bought one stick so I would know how it tastes. Hmm, as a sign of “favoritism” (that’s how we are in this country anyway hehe) she attempted to smother it more with the margarine and sugar, but I declined. I asked why she serves it at one-point-something pieces of banana per stick (see picture) and her grinning reply was “arte lang”! My verdict? Well, it tastes like… banana hehe, but definitely heavier on the stomach than downing 5 donuts in one sitting. Especially that manang’s bananas were longer and fatter than those we see in metro manila!

Oh so that’s Estosan Hotel and there’s an ATM! I told myself that when I passed by the area, but let’s do that story later. And I was already at the ORG!

Entering the ORG compound I saw that the trikes have their waiting area at one corner and immediately noticed that there is something unique in them. I looked a bit more and realized the ‘roofing’ is different. Ah to each his own unique brand or style hehe. If in Ilocos the trikes are “lowered” (meaning the cabs are way too low almost touching ground level), in Cotabato, there are actually no roof structures! What takes the stead are those striped-colored umbrellas. When I asked, the kind drivers told me, though detachable, the “umbrellas” are part of the manufacturing process for Cotabato tricycles. Interesting! For those familiar with pedicabs in Valenzuela or sidewalk vendors in Divisoria, no, those are not the same umbrellas. These that the Cotabato trike-makers manufacture are heavier using water pipes for the ‘stem’ and steel bars for the umbrella frame, while the colored canopies are not cloth but thick canvass like those used in commercial tents!

Imagine that, I just did a leisurely walk of about half a kilometer and I had the banana experience plus a closer look at Cotabato City’s trikes! Would have I known about them if I rode the jeeps or had the luxury of a tour vehicle?! Never!

Let’s already do the ORG in the next story. Promise!

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