Monday, February 25, 2013

Musikahan+ 2013 Tour at Tagum City

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.

Musikahan Festival
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.  

Canopy Walk
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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sarangani hosts LOGSAC 6th Founding Anniversary

In an unusual fashion, the Local Government of Sta. Cruz Adventure Club (LOGSAC) has celebrated its 6th founding anniversary on February 16-17, 2013 with an adventure trip to the province of Sarangani. For the last five years, we used to hold it within the Davao region but with a new desire to fulfill another level of wanderlust, we decided to take a circuit to one of the country’s most promising provinces. Aside from being home to popular boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to being an abode of world-class tuna specie, Sarangani province can easily claim to be ready for primetime in as far as tourism is concerned. And when we get there, we instantly avowed its wonders and splendors.

Arrival at Coco Beach Resort
On board two passenger vans, we left Sta. Cruz at around 8:00 in the morning on February 16. Including some guests members who already became part of LOGSAC’s existence, the team arrived in the town of Glan 11:45 in the morning via the General Santos City road, enough for us to take an immediate lunch in one of the town’s popular eatery. We had our overnight stay at Glan and travelled 90 degrees back to General Santos the next day to see for ourselves another Sarangani’s pride town – Maasim.

As it turns 6 years old, LOGSAC members are aching for more travels this year
At this point, allow me to share to the readers of this blog some of the beautiful spots we visited as part of our memorable anniversary celebration in Sarangani province.

Coco Beach. Located some 9 kilometers from the town proper, Coco Beach is one of the most visited attractions in Glan. It boosts of its fine white-sand, blue-watered beaches that also blends well with its long coastal stretch and amusing seascape that includes the adjacent Davao del Sur sites. Others even referred Coco Beach as Mindanao’s version of Boracay Island. However, despite its being very attractive, Coco Beach offers affordable rates to its visitors and guests who wanted to stay in the place. Delectable sea foods in the area also abounds. As early as 2:00 AM there were already vendors selling fresh catches to us.

Jump shots, more fun in Sarangani
For me, Coco Beach is a picture of nature with serenity as its main subject. The simple structures in the resort are perfect to a crowd that loves the minimalism of life just like our group. When we arrived in Coco Beach, we enjoyed the simplicity of life, celebrated innocent moments like children and have done things without complication. Our witty volleyball game in Coco Beach was turned into something like a soccer world championship match. It was filled with unity, teamwork and intensity. It even captured the attention of other visitors in the resort.

LOGSAC hunks
Truly, Coco Beach was witness of one of LOGSAC’s finest moment.

Lemlunay Beach Resort. This resort in a cliff is located in the town of Maasim, 40 kilometers south drive from General Santos City. It is a very trendy resort in the province featuring its dive packages for extreme and beginner divers alike. Unlike any resorts, Lemlunay has no shoreline. From the main ground it directly cascades vertically to the sea just like Maxima Resort in Samal Island. It has commercial amenities like airconditioned rooms, restaurant and infinity swimming pool, among others. It is also very accessible to land transportation as it lies just beside the national freeway.

Lemlunay Beach Resort
The one thing we noticed while on our way to Maasim was the eye-catching sites of Sarangani province national highway being surrounded with more-than-the-usual landscapes. As Pawiks would put it, the view is similar to that of the Grand Canyon, very pleasing to our liquor-themed eyes due to hangover (hehehe). On our way back, we had to stop and enjoy the magnificent man-made forest in Maasim. The green scene was shading the entire place with a close-to-perfect sequence of the vegetation. John Jay, Butchie and Jane Monton – you really missed the chance to be in this place. It’s really worth-visiting.

Shades of Green at Maasim town
Lagare Inland Resort. The original plan of the group as reflected in our itinerary was to travel all the way back to Sta. Cruz after Lemlunay, but because a very good LOGSAC friend and Police Officer Omar Baret invited us to side trip General Santos City, we headed our way to Lagare Inland Resort, only 5 minutes away from the General Santos City proper. There we were able to witness another simple, nature-inspired inland resort highlighted with a huge natural spring pool and simple cottages.

With Omar Baret and his aspiring police officers at Lagare Inland Resort
We were greeted then with a bunch of aspiring policemen in the resort as Omar was training in-charge of the region 12 Police Training Center. After an Omar-sponsored budols lunch, we bid goodbye to General Santos and arrived at Sta. Cruz 3:00 PM on February 17.

The escapade was indeed very successful. Thank you so much to all those who joined the trip: Tolits, Pawiks, Pagong, Jongjong, Niloy, Irvhin Joy, Kirvy, Jonas, Papong, Hardi Joy, Dancel, Glenn Mark, Kiba, Doray, Faridah, Trecelyn, Matet, Irish Gay, Charina, Hector John, Chombian, Mitz, Kaling, Jinggoy, Yeoj, Eboy, Cathy. Special thanks also to Omar Baret for the accommodation at Lagare Inland Resort. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BMC and Basic First Aid Training for Team Palaka conducted

New outdoor group Team Palaka of Barangay Coronon, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur has received a Basic Mountaineering Course and Training on Basic First Aid last February 8-10, 2013. The training was held at Bay Coronon Resort and was facilitated by the Local Government of Sta. Cruz Adventure Club (LOGSAC), Sta. Cruz Active Volunteers for Emergency and Rescue Services (SAVERS), the Municipal Tourism Office and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management office (MDRRMO).

Basic Mountaineering Course 101 as explained by this blogger
The trainings aimed to respond to the call of the Department of Tourism to promote responsible mountaineering practices especially in Mt. Apo trekking. Likewise, it is expected that the said trainings will help boost disaster management as more and more well-trained rescuers will be made available during disasters and emergencies. Team Palaka is the latest addition to the pool of rescue groups in the municipality of Sta. Cruz.

SAVERS President Lito Roque spearheads in Basic First Aid and Rescue Training
Team Palaka is composed of local youth workers, students and out-of-school youths who share the same passion of doing outdoor adventure activities. It exists for more than one year. Its president, Johnville Tragico, said they are very thankful for the opportunity given to them especially with such similar trainings. He further said to really take the group into a higher level through attending more trainings particularly on rescue procedures.

Actual Demo on Basic Ropemasnhip
The training had three major components namely: Basic Mountaineering Course 101 (Climb Organization, Group Formation, Trail Signals, Pacing, Trekking Techniques, River Crossing, Trail Signs, Trail Etiquette, Mountaineering Gears and Equipment and Leave No Trace Outdoor Principle), Basic First Aid and Rescue Procedures (which also included Basic Ropemanship) and Workshop on High Angle Rescue System. The workshop was conducted in Sibulan River, Darong, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur on February 10.

The three-day training was fully supported by the Local Government of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur with assistance coming from Bay Coronon Resort through its very amiable owner Ate Dina Vicariato. Special thanks is also extended to Ms. Jhenie Dagondon, Mitz Manuel, aspiring LOGSAC Hector John Bacaling and Rechovielle Bacaling of University of Mindanao.

Experts from LOGSAC and SAVERS who were part of the group of trainers were Lito Roque, Michael Gapula, Henry Gapula, Julius Biala, Danrev Broñola, John Jay Cuizon, Romulo Birondo, Jonas Florencondia, Hardi Joy Desuyo, Jose Sabandal and Dancel Birondo.