Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Cagayan de Oro Experience

I only know two things about CDO. One, it’s the city of Golden Friendship. Second, this is where the world-famous white water rafting should be in your must-to-do list. So when the chance to experience that kind of friendship, golden that is, and the exhilaration there is in cruising the CDO river, I had my ticket booked three months in advance.

Toastmasters has always been a blessing to me. It gave me lots of reasons to laugh. When I say laugh, I mean the laughter that hyenas do! It also brings me to places- near and far. Bago for instance during our Annual Youth Speechfest and to Cagayan de Oro this year for the 8th Midyear Conference.

The trip to CDO from Bacolod is a two-plane ride. We had to pass by Cebu where we spent around two hours of hyenas-like laughing, chit-chatting, munching, and surfing. Those activities were at random.

Time was up for Cebu. Now we breathe the CDO air and it was already past 12 noon. We took the van going to Marco Hotel. Cagayan de Oro reminds me of Dumaguete. People are slow-paced. The air is cold and fresh. The foliage are crisp and green!

When we arrived, that’s when I felt quite uneasy. Now the thought of competing sank in my mind. Few moments from now, I will be standing in front of all District 75 toastmasters present for the Table Topics Contest. Not only that, I had to practice for our duet of “This is the Moment”, which will be after the Impromptu Speaking Contest. I had to take things easy, I thought. So I inhaled and exhaled deepely and frequently. I will get by, I knew! Everything has an end.

The time came for me to speak. There were no supernatural events that delayed it or caused it to be postponed. My prayers were not answered. So I made my way to the stairs, quite graceful, (at least according to me) and safely landed on stage. I chose topic number 10 because I believe 10 is my lucky number! The contest chair read my topic, “If you were given a chance, what chance would that be?” Now you might be wondering if its true. Yes. Toastmasters are fun-addicts and they revealed that addiction in the Midyear Convention. That night, topics were crazy, silly, and sometimes out of comprehension! So I expounded on it. However, I cannot evaluate my self. Or else I will end up pulling my own leg. Did I win? Yes. I won against myself. I won against my fear. I won against my protective shell. Now, I’m a new toastmaster. Braver. More daring. More confident.

Dinner was served - sumptuous and delectable. I felt it was my prize. Then the duet competition made its start. This is the moment – our piece. Indeed it was the moment to prove to them I’ve made it on my own! Did I just sing? Its coincidence! Did we win? Yes. We won in the hearts of fellow toastmasters. We won in expressing what we want to do. We won in letting go of our indomitable passion.

Then next day came. We celebrated the holy mass to start our day. Then the last fun stop was the Talentadong Toastmasters! Our number was unexplainable. Maybe just like the table topics, it was crazy, silly, and beyond comprehension! The only thing I can say is that it was a conglomeration of acting, projecting, and oh this one will never elude us – singing! Did we win? NO. Ha! Ha!

Now the best part of the CDO visit dawned on us all by surprise. We never thought that the white water rafting will be as enjoyable as it turned out to be. In fact, there was an apprehension that the 3-hour-cruise might be too long. But no. The excitement that we carry in our sleeves from the starting point until we reached our final destination was a plateau. Escalating in every bend. Rising in every rapids. No dull, boring moments! The 12-kilometer river stretch was a promise of paradise. It was nature’s perfection within your spectacle. It was sheer beauty revealed.

Cagayan de Oro – I will see you again!

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