finding a home in pagadian

Posted: April 20, 2008 in All and Sundry

I arrived here early morning after dawn, mildew everywhere. This time around, Pagadian feels familiar like a favorite pair of shoes. This third visit marks an artistic significance of some sort.

Three years ago, Dennis and I ventured to this city knowing literally nothing about it, except that it is known for its uniquely designed tricycles, ones that you can not find anywhere else in the country. We wanted to join a contemporary dance choreography workshop, the first one we’ve heard of in Mindanao. Coming from different dance backgrounds, we just took the risk, come hell or high water, and just journeyed on for 10 or so hours from Davao City.

It was through the workshop that I was able to build a productive friendship with Pagadian’s theater actor/performance artist extraordinaire Felimon Blanco. The year after, I returned to Pagadian to perform in the Performing Beckett Festival organized by Felimon, which proved to be one of the defining moments of my artistic life in Mindanao. The memory of that performance has driven me to work more and strive to push the envelope of my art, knowing that I was able to write an adaptation of Beckett’s “Rockaby” and then performed it through a movement piece that I also choreographed and directed. It was one of the major challenges of my artistic life here where audiences are strangers to me, and aesthetic tastes are still mysteries yet to be unraveled.

But more than anything else, the Performing Beckett experience also convinced me that Pagadian is forever one of those places that will be a well for artistic inspiration. Truth be told, every time I come home from Pagadian, I always feel recharged creatively as though anything is possible, and that personal circumstances are just surfaces you can gloss over.

Now, here I am again—alive with the promise of artistic renewal. The place feels like home. “You know that feeling when you arrive in a place for the third time and it suddenly feels like it is another kind of home, in a weird gut-feel kind of way…” This observation I wrote in my mobile phone’s saved messages once I arrived in the bus terminal. This is strange feeling I know but it is welcomed nonetheless.

This third time around, Pagadian has become more that it promises to be for me. Beyond the promise of artistic rebirth, it has now gained a face as a city worth visiting if only to satisfy an inner tourist’s urge. I realized that the tricycles are art objects to behold, and that it really would take a clear understanding of its ergonomics to be able to climb into with ease. I realized that food here is quite good, and the hotel service at Hotel Alindahaw is close to excellent. The service crew is sensitive to your needs and always around to answer questions in a polite way.

Talking with Felimon’s co-workers at the city Zamboanga del Sur Tourism Office, I learned that there is actually an interesting variety of tourist spots around Pagadian and specifically around Zambo Sur—lakes, small islands with white sand shorelines, waterfalls, and even underwater caves. And I can’t wait to visit one of these places and share them with my adventurous friends.

There are many treasures to discover in Pagadian aside from its artists. I wouldn’t hesitate to visit this city again soon and bask in its paradisical wonders. Over all, it still remains as an inspiring home for my artistic growth. I feel so blessed to be here for the third time.

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