DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews / 09 August) — Visiting the place where my heart belongs is always on the top of my itinerary whenever I go to the Philippines for my annual vacation as an OFW. That place is Sulu—the only place I call home. Sulu is my birthplace and it is where I happily grew up and spent many precious memories with my family and loved ones.
My homeland Sulu is a wonderful, tranquil and easy place to live in. While you are living healthily, comfortably, and decently, the cost of living is inexpensive.
That’s what I really love about my homeland—it is just simple in the whole sense.
Of course, most of all, Sulu for me is one of the best places to de-stress after a year-long of the day to day work overseas.
Rural life in Sulu is absolutely awesome because the tranquil and breathtaking environment relaxes and brings joy to me.
The village is always quiet and peaceful which is one of the best places to unwind and escape from rat-race and hustle and bustle of the urban life, less crowded as there are only few cars and people. Moreover, the scenery in the village is beautiful as it is still well-conserved.
Notably, the environment in rural areas is less polluted, thus, the air is fresh and clean as there are plenty of untouched areas and greenery.
Indeed, life in countryside is full of fun and enjoyable especially so when your family and loved ones are with you.
On a summer meadow, you enjoy eating fresh food and also exotic fruits like durian, marang, lanzones, mangosteen, and drinking fresh coconut juice, among others.
Also during merienda time, it’s best to sip hot brewed coffee while eating delicious “bangbang Sug” like bawlu, hantak, pasung, wadjit, daral, putli mandi, among others.
No need to spend a lot of money because life is simple and the cost of living is low. In fact, dwellers of rural and island areas don’t need to pay for water and electricity bills at the end of the month as they only rely on solar power and water from wells and spring.
It’s funny to note, though, that you don’t have a choice but limit the usage of your smartphone because it’s difficult to recharge once battery gets low. Just don’t get distracted with your smartphone every now and then so that you get to spend more “real” time with your family and loved ones.
Interestingly, some village folks only spend less for the reason that they can plant their own vegetables and raise own chickens, cows and goat. When there are special occasions like wedding and Eids, they slaughter their own cows.
Also among the best things in rural life is listening to various sounds of nature.
Under the cold, solemn dark night, I love to listen to the crickets as I sit down on a bench on the balcony or lie down on my sleeping mat.
At dawn just before Fajr time, the first sounds that I hear are the crowing of the rooster and the lowing of cows, of course the adhan for Fajr in a nearby masjid.
When you go to tropical beach or coastline at sunset, Subhāna Allāh, the sound of waves crashing on the shore is one of the most relaxing sounds on earth.
Forsooth, lighting frightens me. But, its bright flash that illuminates the calm dark sky is spectacular, as if there’s an ongoing photo shoot aloft.
It is de-stressing and diverting to listen to one of the most relaxing sounds on earth you’ll ever hear, the gruffing and sonorous sound of thunder on a hushed night; Glory be to Allāh by Whom even the lightning and thunder glorify out of fear or awe of Him.
Additionally, when it rains, the sound of rain battering on the house roof, leaves, and soils outside and the wind howling in the trees indeed stress relieving and it will give you a restful sleep at nighttime.
Moreover, one of the best things also I truly miss about Sulu is when we were in the island of Tung-Tung, in the municipality of Hji. Panglima Tahil. There was a spacious veranda where we had fun and quality time with my family as we ate seafoods — steamed crabs, grilled fish, kinilaw, agal-agal, gamay, gulaman, siyanglag, tihi’-tihi’, tayum, tiyuktuk mampallam, etc.
In Tung-Tung island, we spent the calm and solemn night in the porch looking up at the open sky with a beautiful moon and full of shining stars as the sea-breeze touched our skin and the sound-waves relaxed our minds.
Aboard a small boat owned by my cousin Delmas Tulawie, known to our family as “Kah Ingkog”, on a pleasant-sunny Sunday morning after we had bid farewell to our family members in Tung-Tung, we started our 90-minute sail to Jolo wharf.
To Kah Ingkog and his family who graciously hosted us during our short stay in Tung-Tung, Jazaakum Allaahu Khairan.
As we sailed across the Sulu ocean, I enjoyed looking at several breathtaking views of Hji Panglima Tahil. I truly believe that most of the islands of Sulu have tourism potentials.
Undeniably, numerous eco-cultural treasures in my beloved homeland could have been a wonderful source of pride not only for us Tausugs but for the rest of Filipinos. However, peace and order must first and foremost be addressed.
Subhaana Allaah, the magnificent view from the sea of Sulu’s crying mountain and one of the grandest landmarks — Mt. Tumantangis (Bud Tumantangis), Grand Masjid Tulay, and Mt. Dahu truly amaze med. Indeed, there may be nothing more satisfying than finding a great view, staring at it and being truly in awe of its beauty.
As we were lulled by the hammock of sea waves, some of us just quietly sat and fervently prayed that no untoward incident would happen to us and we can swiftly and safely arrive at our destination. I couldn’t blame them for being nervous since journey in a boat can be a little tricky.
Alhamdu Lillaahi, these are only a few from the innumerable favors of Allāh that He has given to humankind for them to enjoy the simple and satisfying life and above all to be always grateful to whatever huge and tiny things He always gives us. May peace and prosperity reign forever in Sulu! (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano of Sulu is a registered Radiologic Technologist who works in Doha, Qatar. He was on his way to Sulu supposedly for vacation with his family when the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in mid-March in Zamboanga City. He is back in Doha)