There was a prototype switching of the celebration of Musikahan Festival in Tagum City this year. Aside from celebrating oneness through musical concord, it also served as a venue to uphold charitable initiatives for the victims of typhoon Pablo in its neighbor province Compostela Valley. Being part of Davao del Norte before it became another province in Davao Region, Compostela Valley was harassed by typhoon Pablo last December 2012 and had caused mammoth destructions in terms of lives and properties.
|Entrance to the new City Hall of Tagum|
It is in this context that the organizers of Musikahan Festival – the City Government of Tagum and Tagum City Tourism Council came up with an idea to integrate the Musikahan Plus Tours, an exciting cultural journey into the city of palms with combined tours to tourism learning sites, peer-exchange and skills-share and is threaded by enticing concerts of musicians from the Asia-Pacific region which was held last February 22-24, 2013. Aptly called Musikahan Plus Tour, the lakbay-aral tour package is designed to facilitate knowledge networking and skills-share on Product Development and Tourism Promotions, popularize the best practices in Local Tourism Governance through road shows, interactive forum and guided learning sessions; and broaden stakeholders’ appreciation on the development framework and indicators of Responsible Tourism in the region. This project has likewise collectively launched the VOLUN-TOURISM Project to help the communities severely affected by Typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley.
With this activity, I further appreciated the beauty of Tagum City, although I have already been pleased by its loveliness from way back. Usually regarded as the Philippine’s palm city because of its assorted palm varieties planted along its major and minor road networks, Tagum also have a lot of great things to be proud of that were already recognized worldwide. Musikahan Festival is its major window to the world, but some other segments have also been creating remarkable rays that the globe is slowly but surely conceding.
|The Green Trisikad|
In the midst of Musikahan’s popularity, several other identities were built up. First, Tagum is considered as the city of festivals. According to Ms. Alma Uy, the chairperson of Tagum City Tourism Council, they have a total of fourteen (14) festivals, all evenly distributed within the year with different sectors in the society being involved. This is their way of promoting tourism because according to her, they don’t own a piece of nature similar to other LGUs like beautiful beaches and mountain ranges. For now, Tagum is home to notable festivals like Kalimudan Festival, Durian Festival, Binuhat Festival to name a few.
Second, Tagum City is considered the city of parks. There are a lot of parks in its major thoroughfares and all these parks are attractive. All these are also reasons why the micro business industry in Tagum is booming. The main attraction is the government-owned energy park, a wide area that also serves as home to national government offices, a tree park and a soccer field. Then there are other parks within downtown like the Osmeña Park, Freedom Park, Rotary Park and the Mangrove Park. Even the famed La Filipina Public Cemetery has already been included in the list of parks that is mostly visited by locals and tourists.
|Above: Tagum Energy Park. Below: La Filipina Cemetery Park|
Third, Tagum City is bent on investing into a Pilgrimage Tour destination. Not known to some, Tagum has erected a new Christ the King Cathedral while also maintaining the old church structure located in the heart of the City. The new church boosts of its shrine highlighting the giant replica of the Holy Rosary. With this development, Ms. Uy cited that soon enough they will launch Tagum’s pilgrimage tour package comprising the two Christ the King churches of the catholic faction, as well as the mosque’s of the Muslim community.
|The new Christ the King Cathedral with the Shrine featuring the giant replica of the Holy Rosary|
Fourth, Tagum City is blessed with serenity. Beyond its city bustles is an extraordinary convenience that lies within. In Tagum, there is no heavy traffic and you can even transfer from one spot to another with no time delays to consider. The apple green-painted tricycles can take you whenever you wanted in the city such as commercial malls, souvenir shops, restaurants, ukay-ukay stations, hotels and other accommodation facilities and transport terminals. The drivers are very friendly, too, as they are actually trained tour guides by the City government authorities.
|Above: Some Tagum souvenir items. Below: Tagum City by night|
On the third day of my stay in Tagum, I availed of an optional tour to one of its prime tourism attractions – the Hijo Estate Resorts. It is literally referred to as a piece of paradise immersed in natural beauty featuring a lush forest and rich mangroves. Indeed, this place is wonderful. With a registration fee of 750 pesos (they charge 500 only for Tagumeños), I was already treated with a sumptuous lunch in Banana Beach and was also included in their exciting forest tour.
|Major roads of Tagum City are filled with palm trees|
The tour to their secondary growth forest was amazing. There I witness several fauna that I never saw in my 10 years of climbing mountains all over the Philippines. I thought wild pigs are nowhere to be found elsewhere, but in Hijo Resort I caught up several breeds of wild monkeys and pigs roaming just in the forest compound and are not afraid of humans. Several species of wild bushes were also noticed in the place like the national leaf anahaw and century-old trees. Our tour guide even said they have one of the widest anahaw garden ever in Mindanao.
|The flora and fauna of Hijo resort|
Another attraction in the forest is there more or less 200 meters canopy walk situated in the middle of the forest being gloomed by the green canopy of trees and shrubs. I enjoyed walking through green milieu and felt as if my soul was refreshed and my eyes’ spirit revived as I instantly adopted the whole scenery. Very relaxing and gripping.
After a rewarding nature hug, we were ferried back by our service shuttle to the restaurant where our lunch was waiting. But before that, we were brought through THE SPOT, a special area in the compound for fishing where a natural lake is laid out with magnificent green landscape that added another vista to the resort.
|The Spot. Fishing area of Hijo Estate Resort|
For those who want to visit Hijo Estate Resort, there are added attractions and must-do activities that everybody can enjoy. They have a long beach line that compliments with its two levels infinity pool. Open and close cottages are available for day tour and overnight stay with complete amenities. Optional activities that can be tried are the following: All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) ride, mountain biking, kayaking and river cruising through the Madaum River.
|Infinity Pool at Banana Beach Resort|
No wonder, Tagum City is one of the best cities in the Philippines. With its local executives crafting a terrible system for governance, there is no way for this city to go but up.
That short stint of my visit in Tagum was very fruitful. I would therefore like to recognize the following for the support and assistance: Ms. Marikarr Resurreccion, Ms. Rhodina Dago-oc of Molave Hotel and Sir Nestor Horfilla, the overall festival director of Musikahan 2013.