Life on the farm has always fascinated me even as a child. I’ve come to associate it with those happy moments spent at my maternal grandma’s place in a remote village in Cotabato. Endowed with some of nature’s amazing wonders—sweet-scented mountain breeze, rolling hills, fertile valleys and a meandering river—that rustic haven was my favorite playground during the summer months.
|Cool pool inside the bamboo sanctuary|
Compared to the city, the air there was fresh and crisp, permeating the surroundings with a distinct whiff—a stimulating mix of dried leaves on the ground, smoke coming from the makeshift dirty kitchen and the sweet ripe mangoes clinging into the branches of a mango tree just behind her house. It’s a nostalgic episode of the distant past that still delights my senses even to this day.
A stone’s throw away from my grandma’s home was a cluster of tall bamboo trees which have formed a significant part of their bucolic yet blissful life. There, she and her children would gather huge bamboo stems to make garden trellises, carabao-drawn carts, fences for pigpens and channel linings for irrigating rice fields, etc. But the one thing that caught my interest were those bamboo shoots that our indefatigable matriarch picked, which she mixed with shrimps and coconut milk to make one mouth-watering dish for lunch or dinner!
Unfortunately, time and circumstances have kept
me from returning there if only to relive the memories of that rural life I’ve
enjoyed to the hilt. So it was with fervent anticipation that I waited for the
chance to rekindle that part of my childhood—sans traveling to that faraway
place. To my delight, there’s this place somewhere in the outskirts of my home
city where I had to chance to finally reconnect with nature, bamboos and
all—the Davao Bamboo Sanctuary and Ecological Park.
|Humonguous dome at the Davao Bamboo Sanctuary and Ecological Park|
Hidden somewhere in a gently sloping, semi-forested area in the village of Malagos, this verdant slice of paradise is the perfect hideaway for those who want to run away from it all even for just a few hours. Here’s a place so Zen yet within the vastness of Davao where those who want to take a much-needed time-out from the hustle and bustle could find some silence, space, and, of course, satisfaction.
Mind you, the sanctuary, which is a few meters away from the Malagos Watershed, the home of the bred-in-captivity Philippine eagle, is a recent addition to the growing number of natural resorts found in that village. Recently, I, along with my staff, dashed into this new resort where we had our annual teambuilding activity.
It's not so often that me and my staff—many of them so absorbed with their work as planners, analysts and programmers they couldn’t find time for some weekend escapade—flock together (yes, everyone was present!) and get away from the narrow confines of our cubicles and computers to bond in the great outdoors.
That's why we all grabbed the chance to commune with nature—right smack in the bamboo sanctuary—if only to bang away at the ABCs of working smartly and swiftly, valuing the importance of the so-called three C’s of teamwork, namely, communication, cooperation and coordination—plus lots of strategic as well as creative and critical thinking so that we can continue to give our best to our customers.
|A stream inside the sanctuary|
Although it’s still undergoing some enhancements, the resort can already cater to the needs of guests for day tour and overnight stay. Davao Bamboo Sanctuary has family and dorm-type rooms that can accommodate large groups. Certain areas of the resort such as the dome, function hall, and poolside, are also open for events, be it baptismals, birthdays, debuts, weddings, reunions and the like.
Caveat: The road leading to the resort is quite rough and still being paved. Small cars would surely have some tough time negotiating through the rugged terrain. A van, a pickup or some other huge car would be ideal if one intends to bring along his vehicle. For those who have no personal vehicles, however, the resort provides free shuttle service from Calinan where they can assist visitors who want to explore the place.
We spent most of our time inside the resort’s humongous dome where we engaged in various cathartic activities—playing games, cracking jokes, sharing stories, engaging in small talk, laughing our heads off, munching chicheria and what have you—which has helped foster the feeling of camaraderie among us. I believe the gains we had there far outweigh the cost of the day-long activity, that is, Php600 per person, inclusive of buffet lunch (such a bargain, indeed!).
Dashing into the bamboo sanctuary for some quality time with nature certainly did wonders to reinvigorate us. Truly, slowing down and enjoying the natural beauty around us helped uplift our sagging spirits. By taking it slow, we got to reassess so many things about life, work and interpersonal relationships. I guess that’s something all of us need to do once in a while.
In many Western countries today, the rise of the so-called slow living—a lifestyle that promotes the use of slower approaches to various aspects of everyday life—has lured many urbanites to take it slow and move from the cities to the countryside. I’m not sure though if this would catch fire here in these islands. Here’s hoping it would gain a strong following someday.
Like some city slickers who’ve grown weary of the din and drudgery in the urban areas and yearn to commune with nature every so often, a part of me dreams of escaping the rat race in the near future and, hopefully, start living again—on a farm. Like those tall bamboo trees at the bamboo sanctuary, which reminded me of my carefree days in the boondocks, I hope to be flexible enough yet firmly rooted should I finally opt for a slower pace of life. :-D