Where in the world is Manado?

“I like your former president, she’s very pretty,” said Katherine Situmorang of the North Sulawesi Tourism Board (NSTB), referring to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We were trading fun facts about our homes–her Manado and my Manila.

The Indonesian province is nearer the Philippine cities of General Santos and Cotabato than the country’s capital, Jakarta, which is about 2,000 km away (compared to about 500 km from General Santos).

It may have been just as well part of our country: Manado, like our islands, is blessed with warm waters and a rich marine life that make it ideal for divers. It also has fertile grounds that grow cloves and coconuts, among others, for export.

In the late ‘70s, the agriculture industry thrived and the residents could afford brand new cars, until a former president’s son monopolized the trade. Today, remnants of its rich past are evident–the roads are littered with Daihatsu Xenia, the Toyota Avanza’s twin model, and sections of the city are lined with mansions. There are no street children.


Continue reading The new–but comforting–Manado.

* * * *

For a world geography geek in high schoolthanks to my budding interest in the Miss Universe pageant and the spectacle of the Olympics opening ceremony then held in Atlanta, GeorgiaI was befuddled when I was invited to visit Manado. The name sounded comfortingly familiar, rolling off the tongue easily like most Tagalog words derived from the Spanish, yet foreign to my internal database, which couldn’t find a match. However, to Filipinos in the south, as well as Christian Bautista, who I heard have held a series of concerts there, Manado is as part of their vocabulary as other Asian cities are. 


Manado is the capital city of North Sulawesi province in Indonesia. (The editor of my article, having deleted some parts in my first two paragraphs, unfortunately made it appear that Manado is a province. Nevertheless, I thank him/her for ably whittling down my copy to a digestible lengthI originally sent in more than 2,000 words :-P) If you look at the world map, it’s under General Santos, or further southeast of Kota Kinabalu.

I was initially apprehensive about this trip because I was never keen on visiting Indonesia, particularly Jakarta, since I heard it’s pretty much the same as Manila. However, the novelty of going to an entirely new and unheard-of place whetted my wanderlust.

It did not disappoint. I expected it to be like Cebu and Davao, but I found Manado to be more clean, orderly and peaceful. What didn’t make the article was that mansions, the type you’d see in exclusive communities, like Dasmariñas Village in Makati, were built alongside rice paddies and more simple homes and that they were not barricaded by such high gates that go all the way up to the second floor. They were so open, that in most instances, one could actually see through to their living rooms.

I also thought that Filipinos have the upper hand in the region in terms of Western beauty standards, but wow, the Manadonese can certainly compete. Pang-Star Magic, lol! This may be un-PC, but they were definitely able to preserve the genes of their Dutch colonizers with their fair complexion, nicely bridged noses and strong buildcheck na check, lol! I did sense that these factorsan affluent population, a peaceful and majority Christian population, and colonial-looking featureshave given the Manadonese reasons to turn up their noses at fellow Indonesians. 

They do like the Philippines and know enough about our country to put mewho never heard of Manadoto shame. They followed news of Ninoy Aquino, who apparently spent time in Manado as a journalist (can’t find this in my Google searches, though); have sporadic tendency to show off some Tagalog words; and professed to be fans of Tanduay Rum, San Miguel Beer and Christian Bautista.

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