By Bryan Edulzura
Feature and travel writer and veteran traveler Ramon Jorge “RJS” Sarabosing pioneered the crusading promotion of Caraga Region since the early ‘80s when he started writing as a hobby and later professionally and publishing them as a freelancer in national newspapers and magazines.
I had the opportunity to listen to his nostalgic trips to those places way back when no one, practically no one has heard of them.
“The editors in Manila suspiciously asked me if I was not imagining or making things up they hardly believed it existed,”Monching S as fondly called, began. “So I sent pictures and they published them.”
His first story when he was a college drop-out was on Siargao Island. “It was what we arrogant urbanites would call backward but totally clean and quiet. GL was a tiny, humble village and no establish road network. The same with Tinuy-an Falls in faraway Bislig, Surigao del Sur.”
His stories coming months after another landed either in front pages or inside pages, the first-ever feature stories on Siargao, Tinuy-an and Enchanted River then came others like Agusan Marsh, Butuan’s Balangays and Surigao City’s magical islands.
Since then, he recalls, tourism and media picked up the stories and blew and spread them over.
He credits his mountaineering and outdoor families for the trips who “dragged him along” and also from his own initiatives.
Until now, three to four decades after they remained the best of friends. He cites his trips to Cantiasay Wood Foot Bridge, Agusan Marsh, Mt. Hilong-Hilong and Mt. Mayapay treks as well as lakes and river tributary cruises as hard to forget because “corny as it sound, it made me examined and strengthened myself and the world.”
He shares some funny, outrageous and interesting moments like being left behind and running after a bus, being welcome by an old and drunk coastal barangay captain who kept us till the morning and ended up skinny dipping.
He also befriended another village captain who paints as a passion and hanged his framed works at the barangay hall perched atop a hill below the sea.
“A people and environment artist and a public servant at that,” he hails , remembering the man whom he has not heard of since.
He also could not forget an old man in Dinagat Islands who told him the ancient wisdom of the sea and the island caves that foretold weather disturbances.
“The old man walked all the way from the Bonsai forest of Mt. Redondo. I felt privileged to meet him,” he narrated.
He acknowledges the support and friendship of past regional tourism officials and local authorities and barrio folk who guided and inspired him to come out with encouraging and sensitive stories.
Having gone and visited places in Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe, he remains loyal and proud of his home region, calling it his center of the world.
And feeling vindicated from the imperial editors, he gamely says: “Now the world had come and experienced us.”
Photos courtesy of bravosiargao.com/ pinterest.co.uk