by Maricel Evangelista
Cultureight Travel's 6-day Ancient South Crash Tour was a great experience that was so full of adventure, tons of fun and above all, educational. It's not your typical tourist destination but more like a rustic and cultural tour that participants can fully immerse themselves in. Cultureight brought my group and I to the beautiful Region XII in Mindanao, namely, South Cotabato, Saranggani and General Santos.
The Ancient South tour, one of Cultureight Travel’s untouristy trips, was far different from any other tours I have gone with. It put aside my indifference and touched my heart. Every destination we visited was really memorable. The entire tour reminded me of the value of humility-- that being an urbanite doesn’t necessarily make one better in any aspect. In fact, it created a desire in me to be part of these communities and become vigilant in working together with the locals to preserve their culture, as well as their environmental surroundings. I wanted to help enhance their simple way of living without exploiting the resources that make the places so beautiful in the first place.
For participants to experience the "real" Philippines, accommodations are not in five-star hotels but in nipa huts and homestays with locals so that one can experience their way of living firsthand.
Visiting the T’boli community was quite an experience. These indigenous people gave life to culture with a night of entertainment dressed in their traditional tribal wear – the Tinalak – and amazed guests with dance and songs. Of course, the local cuisine was a feast and guests enjoyed and looked forward to every meal.
The scenery was even more breathtaking. The White Water Tubing adventure at Pangi River was unforgettable and the greeneries, mountain ranges and the calm Lake Sebu can surely soothe both the body and the mind.
Initially, I was uneasy and a little adamant to join the trip because of widespread news on terrorism. Mindanao, with all the past circumstances involving terrorist groups, has gained an ill reputation and was thought of as unsafe territory. But after my six day expedition, I just proved these impressions wrong. Besides, Cultureight Travel assured us of our safety and true to their words, the trip was anything but risky and perilous but instead a rewarding experience.
Cultureight’s Ancient South Tour is highly recommended for all young, vibrant, active, and adventurous individuals who are interested to explore not only the ancient beauty of Mindanao but other exciting places in the Philippines as well. Filipinos abroad should consider booking a trip and, while enjoying the beauty of the Philippines, help to further improve the country’s local economy and eco-tourism program.