Lantad: A Place of Peace and Progress

“As long as there is a road, then a traveler will always follow where the road leads him.” - Anonymous

Balingasag Baywalk
I woke up early last April 9, 2011 around 4:30 to prepare myself for our study tour in the current  4th National Volunteer’s Summit hosted by Mindanao, particularly held in SEARSOLIN, Xavier University, Manresa, Cagayan de Oro City. Yes! Indeed, I am going to Lantad!  A place they said where Hope comes even if it seems Hopeless, where Government’s Neglect ends with Care and Love, and where Beauty of Heaven is depicted by nature.

As we travel on a truck with other participant Volunteers in the Summit, thoughts came to me of how things seemingly impossible were made
possible by people. . Lantad is located 23 kilometers from Balingasag, Missamis Oriental. It is a sitio wherein Higaonons  are the main residents and from the word sitio itself, it is a far off place where access to Education, Healthcare and Electricity seems to be out of reach. We had our breakfast in Balingasag Park in front of the Municipality. I saw a very beautiful bay walk and indeed I felt so blessed to have seen it. 
The Map of Lantad

We had a little orientation and maps were distributed as well as the program for the Lantad Study Tour. And finally, before we left, we had our photo taken.

We rode a gravel truck and on a very bright sunny day, we started our journey to the place of peace and progress - LANTAD! Here we come!

Gravel Truck
As we travel the mountainous road, I had seen the beauty that can only be seen on films just like in “The Lord of The Rings”. The rays of the sun made the Verdant Mountains and the beautiful tributaries sparkle in my eyes. The peak indeed tries to reach the sky for it is covered by the clouds and fogs making it more stunning! I felt excitement, joy and fear. The mixed emotions made me realize how  awesome God’s creation is. We were traveling on a road near the cliff. It’s as if walking on a rope to cross another end. One mistake will bring our vehicle rolling down with the pull of Gravity.

Clouds and Fogs at the Peak
Along the road were trees, vines and shrubs and as the truck moves ahead, we do some Matrix Moves to dodge those branches. Indeed it is breathtaking from the fact that were in paradise, our lives were in a 50-50 state of dilemma because of the road and the dodging part so to avoid being hit by the branches on the roadside.
Upon arriving, they offered us delicious foods like corn,sweet potato and fresh fruit which comes from their yield. Later they did a tribe ritual wherein they pray that God may bless  us abundantly. They killed a chicken and the blood of the chicken was brushed at the back of our hands. The killed chicken was cooked and was later partaken by all which ends the Ritual.
The Ritual of the Higaonons

The residents of Lantad were very warm and they described us what Lantad was according to the natives. I came to see the old Lantad was peaceful land until  around after Marcos time, the armed struggle started (1987) . A resident described that they were neglected by the government and some people recruited them to become part of the New People’s Army and from 1987-1990, Lantad  functioned as the de facto government CPP-NPA. Government’s Military force killed civilians during those days as being mistaken to be part of the rebel forces and their houses were burned as well. Residents had lived in fear during those days where bombs and sounds of gunfire can be heard near their homes.

My co-volunteers who lived near Lantad during those times of conflict described Lantad as a place like hell where they compared it to a mother who threatens their child who misbehaves telling them if they won't stop, he/she will be sent to Lantad.

Personally, I felt privileged to have been born in a peaceful town far away from armed conflict. Yesterday (April 8, 2011), I heard some facts about Lantad that awed me.  Governor Oscar Morena  decribed Lantad  was a place clouded by Violence in the past years but he and his group never gave up.  I had seen a miracle
Lantad's Elementary School. Most Youth fails to pursue High School and College due to financial constraints, also, the Students needs board and lodging for the nearest High School is in Balingasag.
in Lantad that mesmerized me. The government were able to provide Solar Panels to the residents and even a cable line for them to have access on Media and Entertainment. They now have a multi-purpose hall, a cemented basketball court , a bakery, a milling machine for their corn and peanuts.  

Presently, Lantad needs a bridge so they will be able to cross the river even during rainy and stormy days.  Not to exaggerate, Lantad is a very remote place and one of them said that their sick family members die even before they reach the hospital.

The Dusty road going to Lantad
As I reflected, Lantad came to be now because someone believed it can happen. I honor Governor Moreno and his group who believed that nothing is impossible. One striking quote that never left me, he said “ We just keep on doing and later we realize we did it”.  To the point when you thought of giving up, they never gave up and showed sincerity.

Now, vehicles can enter lantad because they constructed the ROAD.  The road to Lantad is not a cement or an asphalt road but a plain, simple and man made which runs along the side of the mountain ranges.  The 
ROAD is the way to the continued Peace process and Development of Lantad. It symbolizes connectivity and unity to the Filipino civilization. For the residents, it means life to them for it gives them access to Education, Healthcare , trade and more which few of us had realize its priceless worth.  As we travel to Lantad, it was indeed breath taking as I described. The road tells us how difficult it is where dusts covered us as we try to reach Lantad, as our lives are put in danger as we try to cross the narrow path yet the beauty of fulfillment knowing that beyond the risk you took is finding a treasure that will truly change the way we looked at life. =D The old peaceful and graceful face of Lantad is slowly being rebuilt  . But I know, It is just the beginning. There are places far more worst than Lantad in the Philippines but Lantad will serve as an example to everybody:  peacemakers, government agencies, politicians and to us volunteers to never give up for "I'M POSSIBLE".

Never knew that these beautiful Mountains was a former war zone!

Photos Taken During the Study Tour:

Foods Offered by the Residents of Lantad
The Trees, Shrubs along the Road

Verdant Mountains in Lantad will surely Awe You!

The view of the river from the side of the mountain will Surely Inspire You!

The River Going Lantad

These crops comes from their Yield
Balingasag Seashore
Surely! The Volunteers who joined the Study Tour in Lantad indeed had a life changing Experience!

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+ Comments + 1 Comments

April 26, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Nice reading your blog. What you did was really interesting. Nice photos and videos too. I am also a student and we also did community extensions. Visiting natives on upper lands, feeding, educating and the likes. Indeed it enjoyable seeing different kinds of people, culture and nature. During my experience, I have learned a lo and I bet you too.

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