ONE of Cagayan de Oro’s pioneer broadcasters who moved to Canada is now producing a television show that aims to show a different side of the Philippines to Canadian tourists.
Suzette Ricalde-Montes, former news producer for Radio Mindanao Network’s pioneering TV-8, is producing a travel documentary cum cultural show, which she plans to air on one of Toronto’s TV stations.
“Canadians seem to have gone everywhere in the world except to the Philippines,” Montes notes. “We want to open their eyes to a unique island-hopping experience which they can experience through our show.”
Dubbed 7,000 Islands and More, the show is initially planned to have ten episodes of about 30 minutes each for its first season.
For its jump-off, it’s no surprise that Montes chose Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao. During their first two weeks of shooting, the crew shot Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, followed by Camiguin, Bukidnon and thence to Tagaytay, and Palawan.
“When Canadians travel abroad, many go to the Caribbean which is considered convenient and common,” said Samantha East, a Fil-Canadian based in Toronto who’s hosting the show with local hero and indie film maker Cloyd Winstanley. “But they’re always looking for something different and are very open to other cultures.”
For Cagayan de Oro, Cloyd says they focused on its well-earned reputation as the Adventure Sports Capital of the Philippines, going white water rafting in the Cagayan River, trekking and canyoneering in the wilds of Mapawa Nature Park and skywalking on the newly–built Lasang Treetops and Boardwalk at Initao National Park in Misamis Oriental.
Sam, 19, is an incoming sophomore at Ryerson University where she’s studying Radio and TV in hope of becoming a news anchor and broadcast journalist.
She’s previously been to the Philippines five times, visiting her folks in Masbate and Cavite, then traveling to Bataan, Mindoro and Tagaytay. She’s the daughter of Diwata Viado of Dimasalang, Masbate and David East of Sussex, England.
“This is a perfect opportunity to open people’s eyes, there are so many things to do here, positive things,” Sam said. “I enjoyed trekking through Mapawa Nature Park the most. It was tiring for me but I kept thinking how my friends back home would just love to do this! It’s so good to push our bodies to the limit.”
For those who still haven’t tried Mapawa’s River Trekking & Canyoneering Package, your personal epic saga starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Start off with a 30-minute ride on a trailer pulled by a farm tractor while being briefed on the reforestation project. At the drop-off, your group takes a 15-minute trek downhill to the river where you don life vests for a screaming waterslide down a 25-foot natural waterfall, followed by a 30-foot jump from another waterfall and a rappel down a 65-foot waterfall.
After lunch, you can either trek back to the trailer or ride back to the park on horseback (this costs extra). Or you can camp out in the park or stay overnight at the ranch with bed and breakfast, though prior arrangements for this are necessary.
Previous to this, Sam’s TV experience was confined to being a reporter for RU TV News, the on-campus TV station of Ryerson University, and Minerva Television; an up and coming Filipino cable station in Toronto. The high point of her career at Minerva was having the opportunity to join a press conference in 2008 which featured former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was unaware he was talking to a Fil-Canadian.
Besides Sam and Cloyd, the crew also includes director Maya Manulat, Montes’ colleague from her RMN days.
Lew Hebia, a recent graduate of the Toronto Film School, is the talented cinematographer and editor behind the scenes, whose family moved from Cagayan de Oro to Toronto when he was 14. He’s been coming back to Cagayan de Oro every three years or so, and he’s seen the city grow.
“I like coming back here,” Lew says. “I love the Philippines.”