FROM BUKIDNON TO THE WORLD: In the Montañas of Costa Rica

Students play volleyball during a class break on a typical sunny day at the school campus perched on top of a hill overlooking the valley of Costa Rica in the background, with the Poas volcano partly covered by clouds (rightmost). GARIE BRIONES

By Garie G. Briones

COSTA RICA (BukidnonNews.Net/21 January 2019) The year 2018 has brought about a new milestone in my personal and professional life. Before the year 2017 came to a close, I received the good news that I got accepted to a scholarship to participate in a dual degree graduate program which will take place in the Philippines and Costa Rica.

I was looking forward to the rare opportunity to earn a dual degree on peace building and political science in less than two years. Without any haste, I confirmed my interest to take part in the program way before the deadline for confirming my participation. If that is not an indication enough of my excitement to pursue the program, I don’t know what is. What excited me the most was the chance to focus and concentrate on studying full-time without thinking about earning a living for the time being.

I am currently in Costa Rica and will be here until the middle of this year to finish the first of the two degrees as part my scholarship commitment.

Being uprooted from my country, which has been practically my comfort zone my entire life, to live in another which I barely know anything about (except that it is in Central America) was not as difficult as I initially thought it would be. I could cite several reasons why my transition was quite easy.

Like the Philippines, Costa Rica is a tropical country.  Thus, it also has two seasons only: the dry season and the wet season (although I realized belatedly that it’s dry season could also be the months with the most intense winds that can be as strong as 90km/h!). Additionally, the town where I am staying, which is about four kilometers away from the school campus, has a relatively cool weather all year round. The weather reminds me of the Malaybalay weather I have been used to growing up before I moved to Manila in the mid 90’s to attend the university.

From the school campus strategically built atop a mountain, one has a clear and strategic vantage point of the entire central valley of Costa Rica on a clear day, with mountains and volcanoes as its backdrop. A sight that brought back images of Bukidnon the first time I set foot on the school campus and took in the view. Trees and thick foliage are everywhere. You could feel, breathe and taste the clean and fresh air around you.

Costa Rica is known as a “green” country, with close to 75% of its 51,100 km2 land area covered by forests. The Costa Rican government is intensifying its efforts to make the country carbon-neutral by 2021. Despite its small size and sparse population, Costa Rica has been known as a big player in environmental stewardship. Just last year, Costa Rica has generated 98.53 percent of its electricity from renewable sources since 2014, using its rivers, volcanoes, wind and solar power. Given the similarity between Bukidnon and Costa Rica’s environmental topography and make up, it might be something that Bukidnon (or the Philippines for that matter) can take a lesson from if and when the Costa Rican plan to become carbon-neutral becomes successful and is fully realized.

Currently, I am 16,251 kilometers away from the country I have been calling my home. However, it is with gratitude that I say Costa Rica has been my home away from home for the last four months. Because of the familiar Costa Rican environment that reminds me of Bukidnon on a daily basis, it really seems like I never really left home at all.

Editorʾs Note: Montañas is Español for mountains; so the author writes: he moved from mountains to mountains.

(FROM BUKIDNON TO THE WORLD is a column for Bukidnon citizens who are now living abroad. Garie G. Briones, a development worker, hails from Malaybalay City. He is currently taking his MA in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Reach him via