It’s about time to change the way we perceive the province of Maguindanao and its people. My recent trip to these areas where armed conflict is an ordinary event to some of the residents made me realize that the fear is just a concept that triggers misconception.

My job as a filmmaker brought me to the beautiful province of Maguindanao specifically at the Municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and its nearby town Datu Odin Sinsuat. The task was  to meet some personalities to be interviewed in a documentary video produced by Voluntary Service Overseas – Philippines.

The immersion brought me to Pink Masjid and Blue Lagoon.

THE PINK MOSQUE

This is Masjid Dimaukom. A mosque fully painted with color pink constructed by then Mayor Samsodin Dimaukom in their own property in Datu Saudi Ampataun. The Dimaukom family chose to paint it with pink as they believe it’s a color of peace and unity.

It’s only a 1-hour ride from Cotabato City and I must say that the road is well-paved and the locals are accommodating. The masjid is just along the highway.You will notice that you have reached the town when you see a dominating pink in the surroundings.

The mosque has become one of the faces of Maguindanao as it attracts tourists since it was opened sometime on 2013.

Just a little bit of reminder, the pink mosque’s guardians hate women (esp.tourists) wearing above the knee shorts while posing at the mosque. This is about respect friends. You know what I mean. They don’t like to see photos of the masjid posted on social media with legs-flaunting women.

In case you get hungry, Pen Pen restaurant is just few meters away from the mosque. You would surely love their special pancit. I promise, you would thank me later. Hehe.

THE BLUE LAGOON

The town of Datu Odin Sinsuat has a version of the Enchanted River in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. It’s called The Blue Lagoon.

Tired of racing with the influx of tourists in some popular sites during holidays especially on summer? Head north from Davao City and go to Cotabato City. Take a passenger jeep bound for Datu Odin Sinsuat. You’ll be there by 30 minutes.

For now, it’s open for the public and the entrance is just along the highway. You don’t need to hike for it’s just a few steps away from the entrance.

The locals, mostly students, come and take a dive here after school. Who would not want take a dip on this God’s creation? No one has ever reached the bottom and the source of the crystal clear water remains mysterious.

I only have one wish for this lagoon. I hope the local government will preserve its natural beauty and  be protected.

Mindanao is indeed a promising region. Armed conflicts have been there and I believe the government and NGOs are exerting their best efforts in peacebuilding.

Little by little, we can make difference. Soon enough, everyone will finally see Mindanao in a different light brighter than blue and pink.

Who would have thought that I’d experience these places? I must admit, there was fear lurking inside me but it just faded away  when I started changing my mind set.

MINDANAO IS SAFE. To my readers and friends in Luzon and Visayas, come and go south!