Matin-ao Spring, the Misplaced Paradise

Banyan tree, locally known as balete or balite. It is considered that the tree are home to a variety of spirits just like diwata and engkanto and demon like creatures. Children are taught to not ever point a finger to a banyan tree especially if the tree is fully matured to avoid taunting the spirits that live within them. When I was a kid, I was also taught to say the words “tabi apo” which means “excuse me” each time I go by a banyan tree for me to avoid any harm. Offending the creatures in a banyan tree might lead to illness, suffering, misfortunes and also death.

This tree is very widespread alongside the banks of Matin-ao spring. They’re the primary source of water on the spring plus they play an important role in keeping the freshness and coolness of the water because of its roots. Matin-ao spring is located at Barangay Bangcud, Malaybalay City. It’s just a 30-minute drive from the city proper.

This spring was once become popular to local people as well as tourist. When we were kids, my loved ones will go picnic in this place nearly every weekend. It is in this place where my dad trained me and my younger brother how to swim. We’ve got our favoured swimming spot in where the source of water is only beside us. During those times, I noticed many locals enjoying theirselves in the freshness and coolness of the water. It is a common placefor simple family gatherings. The spring also is a good source of clean drinking water to the people of Bangcud.

Matin-ao spring lost its appeal years after it had been reported that this water is contaminated with parasitic worms or regularly recognized by the locals as “sisto” which cause the schistosomiasis disease. Folks are now are afraid to take a bath in the spring fearing that they can be infected with the dangerous disease. Another reason why the spring lost its popularitycould be the development of spring resorts in the southern part of the province. People would rather choose to do their swimming in those man-made swimming pools with chlorinated water.

After a long time, when I came to visit Matin-ao spring, I noticed that only few local people are swimming in the stream. Others are also doing their laundry washing near the supply of water. The surrounding is quite untidy and you can surely say the place isn’t well-maintained. You can no longer see different families having their gatherings alongside the banks. However it was now replaced with videoke bars with the drunken local folks singing to the top of their voices. The spot is indeed very noisy. The fresh and relaxing environment of Matin-ao spring is no longer there.

I still hope that the old attractiveness of Matin-ao spring will be recovered. It’s not yet too late. The banyan trees are still there standing proud. The cool and fresh water is still running deeply and waiting to be developed. It only requires a little fund for improvement to restore the actual beauty of Matin-ao spring. If the government is going to do an action in getting rid of those rumored parasitic worms, I’m sure Matin-ao spring will be again be a popular destination.

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