Once I was in the office abroad a colleague of mine approached me and showed me the newspaper. The headline was about bombing somewhere in Mindanao. She asked me if it was that way always in our country. I quickly dispelled her view about Mindanao and I even said I really wanted to live in Davao (that's true!).
That incident made me sad. It also made me remember another colleague's story about his homeland, Pakistan. It was a very similar story. It's a PR nightmare for people who live there. Why? Because with the negative opinion about the region they won't be able to encourage tourists to go, much less invest. And one needs investments for progress.
I've been going to the Visayas and Mindanao region often in the past 5 years and from my observation, the Visayas region (specifically Cebu) has grown by leaps and bounds. There's been change in the Mindanao region (specifically Davao), but not as fast as what I've seen in Cebu. I'm basing this on construction growth because it's the most obvious one to observe.
I went to Davao and GenSan last weekend for the 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit. I eagerly said yes to Avel when he sent me the invitation. I love going to Mindanao because it's so different there. Everybody's open, friendly and accommodating. I told Arbet while we were chatting during MBS that Mindanao bloggers are definitely more pro-active than their counterparts anywhere else. Why? Because they have limited resources and as Mayor Acharon said, "We have to be more resilient."
I have no doubt that the bloggers who attended the Mindanao Bloggers Summit would definitely help in changing the mindset of people about their region. It will not happen overnight, but it will happen.
And if you have not visited the region, you should! Here are some video blogs I did about Davao and GenSan.
More details about the trip at LakwatseraAko (Davao and Gensan)