Just got back from my weekend frolic in Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Sabah, Malaysia. I was with friends from college whom I had not seen for ages and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed travelling with people with the “same wavelength” (as we like to say in this part of the world).
The plan to go to KK materialized after toying with the idea for quite some time. Thanks to the cool low-cost airline Air Asia, we were able to get a round-trip flight from Clark International Airport, in the province of Pampanga just one hour and a half away from Manila, to the KK International Airport. My fare cost around Php 4,300 (plus airport and travel taxes which you pay in the airport itself), which is very good considering that I booked it late.
The thing with KK is, it’s the Philippines most Filipinos wouldn’t get to know. The culture is very Tausug, people who lived in the war-torn Philippine province of Sulu and Tawi-tawi; in fact, there are a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of Pinoys who work in KK and they always get excited to see Tagalogs visiting a Tausug territory.
Here came the major epiphany of the trip: we’re Filipinos but we don’t get each other, which for me was a big slap in the face. In the restaurant where we first ate, almost all the staff members were Tausugs from Mindanao. They migrated to Borneo rather than die of hunger in their native Philippines. They’re people who have not set foot on Manila or speak any word of Tagalog but they share the same values and happy disposition of their kababayans up north. For more, they were *ecstatic* to meet “standard” Filipinos, those who speak a barbaric mixture of Tagalog and English, hate the sun with a passion and those who did not ever have to worry about the safety of their entire family amid a senseless war. I wonder how many Manileños or Cebuanos would be able to do the same when people from Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-tawi come to visit their malls, walk their streets and eat their food.
My trip to Kota Kinabalu has been a great humbling experience and no beach or mountain could replace that.