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FEATURE: Epiphanies on the road to ‘Someplace Else’: Journeys into the Thailand-Burma border

"I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over - a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any here."
               - John Steinbeck in "The Urge to be Someplace Else"

And so it was that I found myself one cold December morning riding at the back of an open pickup truck, the wind on my face, up through the misty mountain trails of Mae Hong Son at the Thai-Burmese border. There we were all seated on a mat spread across the floor of the truck, shivering at every burst of moist wind that got chillier as we climbed our way up the slopes. To shield my face from the cold, I draped it with a shawl that I kept holding on tightly lest it gets blown about by the wind. Yet, after a while, I decided to let go of it gladly, no matter how biting the cold was, and let myself be swept in by the wind and sunshine, and the stirring beauty of mist and green.

The “little paper with a big cause” is 60 years old

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/09 February) -- It was the brainchild of two great missionaries- Fr. Gerard Mongeau, OMI and Fr. Cuthbert Billman, OMI. Fr. Mongeau fathered it and Fr. Billman named it, "The Mindanao Cross, a little paper with a big cause." This motto has described the paper ever since it emerged from a donated printing press and began to hit the streets 60 years ago on February 6, 1948.

Cuartel de Tacurong on the eastern end of the plaza

As one enters the City of Tacurong, one can see the simplicity of life in a striving community of about 100,000 souls. Rising from the stereotype portrayed by national and foreign media for many years that it is a very risky place to stay in, visit or do business due to the past reported bombings and other acts of criminality and terrorism, its people are not only resilient but truly resisted the idea of relocating to other “safer” places as an act of defiance to these conscienceless and soulless monsters.

PROFILE: Agapito “Pete” Lubaton: more than just a teacher

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/19 November) -- It all started with a simple dream. A young boy many years ago dreamt of becoming a teacher and he did become one.

Today, Agapito “Pete” Lubaton, 47, is more than just a teacher. He is also co-owner and administrator of the Marbel Institute of Technical College (MITC), one of the fastest-growing and most promising technical-vocational institutions in Southwestern Mindanao.

PROFILE: Sarangani’s gov and vice gov: a common passion to serve

SARANGANI (MindaNews/04 November) -- Theirs is a partnership driven not only by expediency but also bonded by familiar background and common passion to serve. 

While they don’t necessarily bring laughter and humor like Laurel and Hardy and breath the gung-ho spirit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or the swashbuckling crime busting duo act of the ‘70s television hit Miami Vice, Sarangani’s one-two punch in Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez and Vice Governor Steve Solon is just the right mix of youthful and exuberant leadership this southern most province southeast of Mindanao needs to close the first decade of the new millennium. 

The bishop-farmer campaigns for organic farming, sustainable agriculture

DIPOLOG CITY (MindaNews/25 October) -- "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Or so the Chinese proverb says.

But for Dipolog Bishop Jose R. Manguiran, 71, "that's obsolete now.” For the Bishop, it should be updated to something like: "Don't just teach him how to fish; teach him how to take care of the seas and the environment."

Reigning over the Philippine Army: Will Yano succeed where others failed?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 August) – When Mindanao-born Lt. Gen. Alexander B. Yano took over the command of the country’s largest armed forces unit, the Philippine Army, he inherited a military force that has long been viewed as corrupt, inefficient and highly-politicized.

24-year old Grade 1 student wants to be a lawyer

MAITUM, Sarangani  (Sarangani Information Office/25 August) – “Kasi mahirap talaga ang pobre” (Because it’s really difficult to be poor).

This sums up what motivated Tom Balatac, 24, to enroll in Grade I this year. 

FEATURE: Making machetes down Ma-a Road: a family heritage

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 February) -- Travel down Ma-a Road here and you will find a small foundry that time and technology have forgotten.