Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Lore and Lure of Dahilayan Barrio

As early as 2002 while Dahilayan was still a sleepy barrio tucked away from the beaten path trod by adventurous segments of the local population, a few of us serendipitously found enough interest to give the place second looks.  We envisioned attractive reasons to apply some resources into its development.  Admittedly, in that early time, there was already a working irrigation system that winded through its hills and valleys potentially providing any interested farmer ample supply of water for farming.  Still the natives then, those referred to locally as the galis, obstinately kept at their laid-back and lazy ways content with meager results produced by meager efforts.  Exerting just enough efforts at work through employment or working their own farms to eke out a very elemental type of living.  They were at the same time nonchalantly banking on the efforts of outsiders to provide both easy employment and productive uses of their idle lands through leases, to propel them beyond the survival stages they were wont to experience.

Agricultural plots were initially leased from the land-owning natives to provide the basic infrastructure for vegetable growing, essentially of high-value crops that were finding good markets in the nearby cities.  Food service businesses  were suddenly finding themselves addressing the variegated palates of their clientele which were growing in sophistication.  And the idle natives became the pool for harnessing labor to work the fields. But an eye for acquisition of some plots of land was always there because of the long-term prospects seen for the area.

In the beginning we were essentially absentee landlords, relying on the presence and the developing expertise of relatives who were residents of Cagayan de Oro and who served as our proxies.

That was then, but now in that short span things have changed tremendously.  So dramatically changed as to make the current-day barrio almost unrecognizable from what it was a few years ago.  In no small measures, thanks are due to the Paras family who has unloaded tons of development into the blessed area as to convert it to some kind of tropical Disneyland.  Needless to state, not only has the barrio shown tremendous economic betterment, but also the immediately surrounding areas.  And in the meantime, A Brown Company had opened its unique kind of subdivision up on one of the ridges owned by them, touting some kind of leisure farming for lot buyers by providing generous cuts in lots like a 1000 sq. m. a piece.

In fine, Real estate prices have soared dramatically and a little scramble from city folks to purchase land for themselves had ensued. Now the heightened prices have reduced the ranks of ready buyers.

In retrospect then, it wasn’t too long ago when I wrote/blogged about the place (2005 and 2006).

“Anyway, all things considered, my choice has been the little, agricultural, remote, and rural barrio of Dahilayan, in the municipality of Manolo Fortich in the Province of Bukidnon forming part of the northern region of the island of Mindanao.”

”For the past 3 years or so, we have been slowly and quite imperceptibly acquiring contiguous farmlands in the above barrio which rises some
1300 meters above sea level and nestled in one the various foothills forming part of the majestic Kitanglad mountain range. The imposing shadow of Mt. Kitanglad looms large and inviting facing south from where we are located. The combination of soft rolling hills and sharp steep inclines in the terrain while at times providing daunting challenges in farming, makes for a landscape that can combat boredom and cookie-cutter looks in farm lots. No endless stretches of uniform looking plots or bland flat yards around structures.”

“And no fears of being isolated from the rest of civilization, since the place can be reached from the bustling northern Mindanao city of Cagayan de Oro in an hour or so, though the conditions of roads at times leave much to be desired. Especially during rainy seasons. But the eye-catching travel scenery makes up for this lack of comfort, traversing through verdant fields of pineapples, vegetable tracts, and simply virgin valleys and gullies enveloped in thick foliage. Intermittently broken up with sites of man-made structures such as greenhouses and even piggery housing. But the overall outlook of the area is still one of being untapped and unspoiled by too much intrusion of urban-like sprawl and structures.”

Read more from these past blogs: