Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Cotabato City

This next destination I visited was c/o the Tagalog-speaking kid over at the cathedral. I was not surprised that he spoke that dialect for a ‘daily conversation’ as I have seen and heard many people in Davao, GenSan, etc who do the same. Sus, there are even many Ilocanos in Mindanao! What surprised me was the suggested place, a grotto. I was half-expecting the kid would suggest a plaza or some mall since that’s what kids usually always know, right? Well, he probably thought I was some religious whatever touring religious whatevers, reason why he suggested the grotto. Or he is probably also very religious than other kids that all he has in mind are the sights to see that are related to his religion. I took his suggestion seriously and asked for directions.

Kid told me its in Tamontaka. I asked if I could walk to that place, his eyes almost popped from their sockets! He told me it is very far, maybe 30 minutes to an hour ride. I asked if it was going towards the airport. He said somewhere there. Hmm, now I believed him that it was very far to walk hehe, though I was certain it wouldn’t take an hour ride. I took a jeep in front of my Hotel Castro as instructed by the kid and there I was… going out of Cotabato City… into the airport area… to this town called Datu Odin Sinsuat… province of Maguindanao. But as far as travel is concerned, its just a near jeep ride away on good “city roads” without bungled traffic. Generally still part of the Cotabato City suburbs.

What is there? Ah well, a small park where lovers spend their sweet nothings amidst plants and shrubberies, the youth with their various kinds of music playing devices as they purportedly ‘listen’ to the tunes or practice their dance steps. That is generally the view around. Well there is a mini zoo called “small world” with separate (additional) entrance fee bannering a “Buwaya Exhibit”, a mini theater, a fountain with the image of the Virgin Mary at center. Everywhere you get to see signs that say “Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto” attached to everything else for a name like the mini-zoo and so on. BUT, where is the real grotto? I’ve been walking around in the not so big park (where allowed) and I have not seen it. its probably somewhere else without directional signs or it hid behind the dizzying attempt to become a park and a zoo.

Am sure what I will have to say next is not blasphemous since I am not even talking about a grotto but a tiny park with monkeys, brahminy kites and buwaya exhibit. I was in the correct place, I will insist about that since I entered the big arc and I paid the entrance fee at the tindera inside the store inside the compound who called out to me saying “dito ang entrance sir” because I was supposed to go straight at that path barricaded by signage and white monobloc chairs. So that place I went to was what they call a “grotto”! I asked her “ito ang grotto?” and she said “opo”. Maybe that word has already taken other things, including crocodiles and a sari-sari store for a meaning?

Anyway, nice enough “adventure”. But as a grotto, they seemed to be hiding it or they’re so busy promoting their park. As a park though, there are thousands of better backyards in Metro Manila than that. Hmp! I decided to leave the place instead.

On the way back, as I disappointedly sat at front seat of the jeep, I saw some Marian whatever ek-ek, a memorial park and somewhere on the left after we crossed the bridge was a sign that said Tamontaka Chruch. It rang a bell somewhere in my head, probably something worth visiting, but did not anymore check it out lest I see another buwaya exhibit and caged monkeys. Onwards more, there was some big compound with a beautiful Muslim-inspired building. There were hospitals and others, but my mind was set on my next destination.

I went to the ORGl… that’s next!


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